One of our regular STEM EDA professional development activities is the Explore Electricity flashlight build. This simple, fun activity requires very little set up and doesn’t make a large mess – always a plus for teachers! During the “Research the Problem” step of the Engineering Design Process, students are introduced to the flow of electrons within a battery and are then challenged to create a simple battery via a voltaic pile. Using that pile, students produce light through a small LED.
The supplies you need are an
*When looking for copper, don’t just assume pennies will work. Modern pennies are made primarily with zinc and a very thin layer of copper leaf. Pennies minted after 1982 have very little copper in them and will not facilitate motion of the electrons.
This activity illustrates electrons flow from 2 dissimilar metals through a salt bridge in order to light a bulb. The full module goes in-depth in explaining the way electrons move across the salt bridge. Request access to the STEM EDA Explore Electricity module here!