This year my oldest came home knowing exactly what he wanted to do, he had seen it in years past and was determined to do it this year - to make a battery out of a potato. Before I was agreeing to anything I checked about.com, and Wikipedia to first see how complicated this would actually be. All of the websites said it was easy and showed detailed instructions (later I would find out there were key details not mentioned! But don't worry! I'll tell you what they omitted!). My son was excited to also try a mandarin orange, a banana and anything else we had laying around.
First off we headed down to our local Walmart (you can follow along with all of the pictures on the Google+ story here) to get an Elmer's Tri-Fold display board, Elmer's glue sticks, Elmer's glitter paint, zinc coated nails, copper, alligator clamps and a SUPER low voltage clock (this is by far the trickiest part of the ENTIRE experiment - you have to have one 1-2 volt clock to get it to work. We initially got one that took too many volts and ended up having to buy a eco-battery kit because it came with a super low volt clock that we couldn't locate anywhere else).
We got to work on setting it all up by inserting one zinc coated nail in each potato and one copper piece in each potato. Connect one copper piece from potato 1 to one zinc coated nail in potato 2 (using conductive wire and alligator clips). Then connect the unused copper wire (or red wire) to the positive clip where the battery would go in the clock. Connect the unused black wire (connected to the zinc nail) to the negative clip in the battery compartment. It should look like the below picture.
The kit we had purchased also came with a low voltage light and a sound chip that can be powered by the potato or fruit. My boys had tons of fun playing around with the different combinations to see what else would work. Little did we know you could mix and match the fruit and it would still power the clock and sound chip.
For decorating the tri-fold board, we cut up strips of construction paper and used the glue stick to attach along the border, then decorated with the gold Elmer's glitter pens to make lightening bolts. I used the silver Elmer's glue pens to highlight each section (purpose, hypothesis, etc.). Blue Elmer's glitter pens for the title (blue is my son's favorite color).
My kids had a ton of fun playing around with the different ways to make it work and learned at the same time. Can't get better than that.
Happy Science Fair Project Season! What are you testing out this year?
Note: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias #GlueNGlitter All opinions above are completely my own. :)