Water Wire: Electricity Flowing Through Water

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In this activity on page 10 of the PDF, learners detect the amount of energy that can flow through a sodium chloride electrolyte solution with a light sensor. Learners construct an electrolyte sensor, test various solutions of saltwater, and attempt to identify mystery solutions based on their conductivity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • 3 mini-craft sticks
  • Aluminum foil
  • Light (mini-lamp 1.5 w volt--25 milliamps)
  • 9-volt battery
  • Transparent tape
  • Permanent marking pen
  • 5 disposable plastic cups (9-ounce)
  • 1 paper towel sheet
  • Tap water
  • Epsom salt


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electric Circuits
    • Energy
      • Energy and Power
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elements and Periodic Table
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Department of Volunteer Support, American Chemical Society


  • All rights reserved, American Chemical Society, 2011