orange battery

moas battery1.png
Presenting the clock powered by Florida’s finest “Orange Battery”.

Electricity: Demonstrating how different metals and acidic juice can generate electricity

Sunshine State Standards: SC.B.1.2 SC.B.2.2 SC.H.1.2 SC.H.2.2

Materials:

  • “Orange Battery” Clock,
  • Oranges (or lemons)
  • Jumper Wire

To Know:
A digital clock normally runs off of batteries that provide an electric current to the clock. A battery works through a chemical reaction between two different metals inside that creates a voltage (normally 1 1/2 volts for a regular battery) when connected.

  • The clock has one Zinc metal terminal and one Copper metal terminal.
  • The jumper wire also has one Zinc metal terminal and one copper metal terminal.

To Do and Notice:

  • Place one orange (or lemon) into one side of the frame marked #1.
  • Place the other orange into the other side of the frame marked #2.
  • Connect the Copper terminal from the clock to orange #1.
  • Connect the Zinc terminal from the clock to orange #2.

moas battery2.png

  • Connect the jumper wire so that the Zinc terminal is inserted into orange #1 close to (but not touching) the clock’s Copper terminal.
  • Connect the jumper wire so that the Copper terminal is inserted into orange #2 close to (but not touching) the clock’s Zinc terminal.
  • After the terminals are inserted the clock “turns on” and starts to run.
  • The clock will usually start at 12:00.
  • If you remove any of the terminals the clock will shut off.

Now try pulling the jumper wire and swap ends so that the two Copper terminals are in orange #1 and the two Zinc ends are inserted into orange #2.

  • Did the clock turn on?
  • Now try putting only the two clock terminals together into orange #1.
  • The clock will usually not start with just one orange “battery” connected.

What’s Happening?
The two oranges act as two batteries because they have two different metals (copper and zinc) inserted into them. The acid in the orange causes a chemical reaction which takes electrical charges from the Zinc and adds charges to the Copper.

  • These electrical charges create the Voltage produced by the orange battery. (The voltage produced is less than one volt, about 0.8 volts)
  • Voltage causes a current to flow through the wires to the clock and back to the other orange. By connecting the oranges with the jumper wire you double the electric voltage available to the clock.
  • If the terminals are swapped, the oranges do not have two different terminals to react with the acid and no voltage (electrical charge) is created.
  • If only one orange is used it is like using only one battery and the voltage is not great enough to power the clock.

Extensions...

  • Try using apples or potatoes to power the clock.
  • Can you think of another appliance that could be powered by an “Orange Battery”?

Learn more…

Developed by the GE Volunteers in partnership with the Museum of Arts and Sciences (MOAS) – Daytona Beach, FL

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