Batteries come in all shapes, sizes and compositions.

And while they often go unnoticed, these small, handy power packs provide a steady supply of electrical energy that powers some of life’s most essential items.

The different types of batteries include:

  • Household batteries (rechargeable and non-rechargeable). These are the most common types of batteries that power things like cell phones, toys and hearing aids.
  • Industrial batteries. These batteries exist to power heavy-duty systems like machinery, railroad and telecommunications systems.
  • Vehicle batteries. These are large, yet fairly easy to use. And they power our cars, motorcycles, boats and other motorized vehicles.

What’s the science behind batteries?

In a nutshell, a battery slowly converts chemicals packed inside it into electrical energy, or electricity. That energy is typically released over a period of days, weeks, months or even years.

The electricity is produced through an oxidation/reduction reaction which occurs when electrons are transferred from one substance to another.

5 Battery-Powered Science Experiments to Try In Afterschool

In honor of National Battery Day, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite battery-powered experiments for students to try after school.

*These activities require adult supervision. While most are designed for older students, younger students may participate and will enjoy watching the experiments.

Make a Lemon Battery

Create a battery out of lemons that produces enough energy to power a digital clock!

Materials:

  • 4 lemons
  • 4 galvanized nails
  • 4 pieces of copper
  • 5 alligator clip wires
  • A small digital clock to power up

Visit Chrome Battery to see the full experiment.

Electrolysis of Water

Use the energy from a 9V battery to separate liquid molecules (hydrogen and oxygen) to create even more energy. As a result, the energy produced will literally split the water! In this experiment, students will test to see which water solution is the best conductor of electricity.

Materials:

  • Distilled water
  • Tap water
  • 2 silver-colored thumb tacks
  • 9V battery
  • Small, clear plastic container
  • 2 test tubes
  • Stopwatch
  • Baking soda
  • Table salt
  • Lemon
  • Dishwashing detergent

Visit Education.com to see the full experiment.

Which Battery Lasts the Longest?

This experiment explores the difference between alkaline and non-alkaline batteries. Students will also determine which type of battery lasts longer: brand-name batteries or generic brands.

Materials:

  • Several different brands of AA batteries. Try to purchase batteries that all have roughly the same expiration date (at least within the same year), and note the price you paid per battery. Here are some suggestions:
  • Brand-name batteries (Rayovac, Energizer, Duracell, Eveready and Panasonic)
  • Generic brands (CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Kirkland/Costco)
  • Several identical flashlights that take two AA batteries (get one flashlight for each type of battery you plan to test)
  • Notebook
  • Clock or watch
  • Masking tape (for labels)

Visit Education.com to see the full experiment.

Build an Electric Motor

Harness the power of one AA battery to build an electric motor that spins!

Materials:

  • One AA Battery
  • Copper Wire (18 gauge should work)
  • A neodymium (rare earth) magnet
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Ruler

For the optical illusion version:

Visit Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls to see the full experiment.

Dirt Battery

This experiment doesn’t involve an actual battery. But it uses ordinary items and materials, like dirt, to build a makeshift battery that can power a little LED light!

Materials:

  • Ice cube tray
  • Galvanized steel screws
  • Copper wire
  • Dirt
  • LED pin Lights

Visit Teach Beside Me to see the full experiment.

Batteries are small power packs that make it possible for cell phones, medical devices and other essential technologies to exist. Use these battery-powered science experiments to help students explore the magic of batteries after school.