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Build A Battery

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    NISE Network

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Build A Battery

The Let's Do Chemistry "Build a Battery" activity lets participants learn how batteries work and how materials behave, change, and interact by building their own simple battery out of metal and felt washers. Learners can use their battery to power an LED or a buzzer. This style of battery is similar to the original "voltaic pile" battery. Activity includes a facilitation guide with potential misconceptions, relevant science infosheets with real-world connections, table sign, and activity training video. All public-facing materials also available in Spanish.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Model

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • Permanent marker and labels
  • 2 LED flashlights (one with working batteries inside, one without)
  • Acrylic stand
  • Felt disks
  • 3/4 inch standard zinc washers (8, save extras)
  • 3/4 inch copper washers (8, 1 with a length of copper wire attached, save extras)
  • Bowl
  • Vinegar
  • Tray
  • Small, grippy tongs to hold felt washers
  • Paper towels
  • Microfiber cloth or sponge
  • 2 wires with alligator clips on each end
  • Large LED diodes (Squishy Circuit style)
  • Buzzer
  • Marker and labels


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Energy and Power
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions

Informal Categories

  • Science Festivals Activity


Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 1612482