Frankenstein's Lighting Laboratory Fruity Electricity

Guess What

Frankenstein's lab is running out of electricity and Igor has asked you to help him find a temporary source of energy to get a single light for the good doctor. His blood-shot eyes stare into yours as he begs for your help. That's when you spot the bowl of fruit. Can fruit help Igor make electricity?

What you'll need:

Lemoncitrus fruit (lemons or limes work best)

1 copper screw about 5 cm long

1 zinc screw about 5 cm long

1 holiday light with 5 cm leads

What to do:

You remember that a battery is nothing more that a device that stores metals and chemicals. And all that citrus contains acids so maybe, just maybe, you can help poor Igor out.

1. Roll the fruit under the palm of your hand to soften but be careful you don't break the skin. Work it gently on a piece of scrap paper or a paper towel.

2. Insert the screws into the fruit about 5 cm apart. Don't allow the screws to go through the bottom skin of the fruit.

3. Carefully remove about 1 cm of the insulation from the leads on the holiday light. Do not cut into the wire beneath the insulation.

4. Twist one end of the wire around one screw and the other end around the other screw. Presto--you have light!

So what?

Investigate the probability of using other fruits and vegetables to make electricity. Measure the pH of each "battery" and see if there is a relationship between the pH of the juice and the amount of light that is produced. If you have a multimeter, you can measure the voltage and current produced.

Now What?

Was Igor happy with the light? Batteries are an important part of today's highly charged electrical society. They are used to start cars, power alarm systems, and run important stuff like radios and CD players. From what materials was the first "voltaic" cell constructed? What materials are used in today's batteries? What materials may be used in the batteries of the future? (If, indeed, we still need them!)

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