How to Make a Lemon Battery Science Fair Project

Instructor: Amanda Robb
In this lab, you'll be learning about the chemistry of batteries. By using the chemicals contained in a lemon and in different types of metal, you'll be able to create a battery to conduct electricity.

Introduction

Goal: Create a battery from lemons to power a small light bulb
Age: Middle school and up
Safety concerns: You'll need a knife to cut the lemons. Be careful with sharp objects and have an adult help you.
Time: 1 hour

Electricity is everywhere in our lives. From the voltage that comes from the wall to power our lights, to the batteries in our phones and computers that keep us connected on the go, electricity is essential to modern society. But, have you ever wondered how it works? What actually makes the lights go on? How do we create something that you can't even touch?

The energy we get from batteries actually comes from chemical energy. In a battery, the chemical energy is converted into electrical energy. Today, we're going to see if the chemicals in two lemons are enough to light a small light bulb, just like a battery does.

Materials

  • 2 lemons
  • Sharp knife
  • Three 4'' pieces of copper wire
  • 6 alligator clips
  • 1.5V mini light bulb and holder
  • Galvanized nail (nail covered in zinc)
  • Penny or thick copper wire

Steps

Safety tip!! Get an adult to help you with this step and be very careful handling the knife.

1. Carefully use a sharp knife to cut two slits in each lemon about 1/2'' deep. Make sure that the inside of the lemons are exposed. If the skin is thick, make the insertion deeper until the fruit is exposed.

2. Insert the copper wire or penny into one slit and the nail into the other slit for each lemon.

3. Now, attach an alligator clip to each end of each piece of wire.

4. Attach one end of the first wire to the nail in the first lemon. Attach the other end of this wire to the light bulb.

5. Connect a second wire from the copper wire in the second lemon to the light bulb.

6. Lastly, using the third wire, connect the nail in the second lemon to the copper wire in the first lemon.

Experiment setup
setup

7. Observe what happens to the light bulb.

Troubleshooting

If your light bulb isn't lighting, first make sure you have a galvanized nail. A steel nail will not work, it must be covered in zinc.

Make sure your wires are completely connected. If they are loose, you'll lose electricity and your light bulb won't turn on. Lastly, make sure your lemon is fresh so you have the maximum amount of chemicals to power your 'battery'.

Discussion Questions

What happened when the lemons were connected to the light bulb?

Why do you think a lemon works well as a supply of chemicals?

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