M is obsessed with batteries and electricity lately. I don’t know how many times he has come to me, screwdriver in hand, to see which kind of battery and how many of them a particular toy takes. He is always trying to figure out how things “go”.
So you can imagine his excitement when I told him our experiment for the day would be trying to light a flashlight bulb with a battery and aluminum foil.
We had a little discussion about how metal is a conductor (his newest word now) of the energy stored inside a battery. Wires can take this energy to working parts, as can almost any metal, even aluminum foil.
Interestingly, he asked me, “how do wires send the electricity? There are no holes in wires!”. It’s so neat to see his little brain working… the idea of electricity traveling inside a wire – well, it would have to have a hole to get into it, right? So I explained that the whole wire – even the outside – is a conductor, and the energy runs along it. He asks some tough questions sometimes and I’m not sure my answer entirely satisfied him. Ah well, he has time to learn!
To do this experiment, take the small bulb out of a flashlight. You want something like a 2 watt bulb, maybe 3 watts at the most. You also need scotch tape, a D battery, and two lengths of aluminum foil rolled up tightly. Ours were about 12” long I’m guessing.
Use the tape to attach one end of each foil “wire” to the battery. One will be attached to the negative side: and one to the positive side:
Next, take the opposite end of one of the foil “wires” and wrap it around the base of the bulb.Get it as tight as you can, and use tape to secure it if you need to. This was the toughest part for us… those tiny bulbs are a bit hard to manage.
Next touch the very bottom of the bulb with the loose end of the other “wire”. Your bulb should light up! M loved doing this part!Energy from the battery circles through the foil and lights up the bulb.
No pictures of this, but we also used one length of foil and a AA battery. We placed one end of the foil at one end of the battery and the other end of the foil at the other end of the battery. Then we placed our fingers over the foil at the ends of the battery and could feel it get warm, then hot! The energy in side the battery was going through the foil and making it and the battery very warm. (Note… you don’t want to do this with much bigger batteries, at least with small children, because at some point it could burn. These batteries are not going to electrocute anyone, but it’s always best to be safe!) I wonder if this would be a good way to test batteries and see if they are still good?!
For more science, see Ticia’s Science Sunday posts here!
Have a beautiful and energy-full day! :)