Potato Power

Potatoes are great mashed, or as tots, chips, or fries. Did you know potatoes can also help produce electricity?

Have fun with this summer experiment and make a potato battery!

What you’ll need:potato

  1. Two big potatoes (long, Oregon-grown ones are good!)
  2. Two short pieces of heavy copper wire (about the width of a spaghetti noodle)
  3. Two galvanized nails
  4. Three wires with alligator clips on the ends
  5. A simple low-voltage LED clock

Steps:

  1. Remove the battery from the LED clock.
  2. Insert one nail into the end of each potato.
  3. Insert one short piece of the copper wire into each potato, as far away from the nail as possible.
  4. clipsUse one alligator-clipped wire to connect to the copper wire in one potato, and clip the other end to the positive (+) terminal in the clock’s battery compartment.
  5. Use the second alligator clip to connect to the copper wire in the other potato, and clip the other end to the negative (-) terminal in the clock’s battery compartment.
  6. Finally, use the third alligator clip to connect the nails between the two potatoes.
  7. Set your clock, and show off your awesome nature-made battery!

After you connect your potatoes, try out some other fruits and veggies to see if they power your clock. Do lemons work? How about apples or pears? What happens if you mix and match?

How does it work? www.kidzworld.com explains it well:

A potato battery is an electrochemical battery, otherwise known as an electrochemical cell. An electrochemical cell is a cell in which chemical energy is converted to electric energy by a spontaneous electron transfer.

The zinc wire reacts with the copper wire, and the potato acts as a buffer between the zinc ions and the copper ions. The zinc and copper ions would still react if they touched within the potato, but they would only generate heat.

Since the potato keeps them apart, the electron transfer has to take place over the copper wires of the circuit, which channels the energy into the clock. Presto! Potato power.

Don’t have these supplies at home? We had great results with this handy kit.

One thought on “Potato Power

  1. What a awesome set:-)
    I love alternative and fun ways of teaching children about chemistry and physics as classic schooling often tend to be boring. I have brought the set for my nephews, but I would have wish that I had know about it before. I used to be a volunteer at the youth red cross where I worked with underprivileged children. I would have loved to teach them chemistry and physics in a fun and inspiring way using the potato set.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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