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How Does a Battery Work? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Alyson Breeding

Alyson is an elementary special education teacher and has a master's degree in special education.

Have you ever thought about how your cell phone works? What about a flashlight? Batteries allow these gadgets to be portable. Let's learn about batteries, how they work and different types of batteries.

How We Use Batteries

Batteries are all around us. We use batteries in little gadgets like cell phones, MP3 players, hand-held video games and flashlights. Batteries are even in big items like cars, trucks and boats. Batteries allow these items to power up without connecting to an electrical outlet. We wouldn't be able to drive our cars if they had to constantly be connected to outlets in our homes--there would be no point in having a car!

You would use a small battery like this to power your remote control.
Battery Image

How Batteries Work

A battery is basically like a jar of chemicals. The chemicals inside the battery cause an electrochemical reaction, which is when chemicals react with each other to form electrons. These electrons are what give us electrical currents to power our devices. How do electrons give us electrical currents?

If you look at a battery, you will see that there are two ends with special markings--one marked with a (+) for positive and one marked with a (-) for negative. These two spots are called terminals. The electrons created during the electrochemical reaction build up near the negative terminal. So, the electrons must move from the negative terminal to the positive terminal to create and release an electric current.

To make the electrons move, we must connect the battery to a load, which is the component that will consume the electrical current. For instance, when you put a battery in a flashlight, the positive end of the battery touches a piece of metal that delivers the electrical current to the load--the bulb.

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