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Electricity Experiments for Kids

Instructor: Shelby Golden
Kids can work on these engaging experiments to learn more about electricity. Get directions for completing these experiments and to find out how kids can learn more about this subject.

Lemon Power

Help kids understand how chemical energy can transform into electric energy with this hands-on experiment. Collect these supplies to begin:

  • 18-gauge copper wire
  • Wire clippers
  • Steel paper clip or a 2 in. strip of zinc
  • Coarse sandpaper
  • Lemons

Some preparation is required before your students can begin the experiment. You should clip two inches of copper wire for each kid participating in this activity and strip the insulation off of these pieces.

Your students will need to straighten their paper clips, unless you substitute pieces of zinc for this part of the experiment. Have them smooth the ends of the wire and paper clip or zinc with the sandpaper. Then they should squeeze the lemon slightly to soften it.

Now, the kids are ready to insert the copper wire and paper clip or zinc into the lemon. These wires should be very close together but not touching. Finally, have your students touch the ends of the wires with their tongues. They should feel an electric tingle as the chemical energy of the lemon changes to electric energy!

More information about electricity is provided in this easy-to-follow lesson titled What is Electricity?. This experiment and lesson can work together to help kids understand this scientific concept.

Making Lightning

Let your students or children see an example of a lightning storm in miniature with this experiment using static electricity. Get ready by collecting these supplies:

  • An iron pot with a plastic handle
  • Rubber gloves
  • An iron or steel fork
  • A plastic sheet

You can conduct this experiment as a demonstration or have older children create the electricity on their own. Begin by taping the sheet to a table and turning off the lights. Make sure that whoever is conducting the experiment puts on the rubber gloves before you go any further.

Now, hold the plastic handle of the pan and rub it back and forth across the plastic for several seconds. Take the fork in your other hand and slowly lower it towards the rim of the pan. As the fork gets closer to the pan, a small spark should jump across. The darker your room is, the easier this spark will be to see.

Help your students or children learn more about this subject with this lesson on static electricity. This lesson can reinforce what they've learned from the experiment, helping them master this topic.

Electromagnet

Give older kids the chance to create their own magnets using electricity with this experiment. You'll need:

  • Thin wire
  • A long nail
  • Two 1.5 volt D batteries
  • Wire cutters
  • Masking tape
  • A direct current knife switch
  • Electrical tape
  • Paper clips

Begin this experiment by having your students or children strip the wire. They should then wrap it around the nail fifty times before cutting the wire so that there are a couple of inches of wire on each side of the nail.

Next, your students should tape the end of the wire from the point of the nail to the negative port of one of the batteries. They then need to open the switch and connect the other end of the wire to the switch's terminal. Now have them cut a piece of wire long enough to reach from the positive port of the second battery to the other terminal on the switch. Secure the wire with tape. The kids should cut one more piece of wire and connect the positive and negative ports of the first and second batteries, also using tape.

Now it's time to close the circuit! Have your students close the knife switch. Finally, have them touch a paper clip to the point of the nail. Since students have created an electromagnet, the paper clip will stick to the nail! Have students experiment to see how many paper clips the magnet will hold.

Have your students expand their understanding of electricity further with this chapter on electrical forces and fields. Introducing these lessons through the experiment can help kids engage with this aspect of science.

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