How Batteries Work

Grades 6th-8th


MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.

Objective: Students will examine the different components of batteries and the chemical reaction that takes place in a battery. Students will construct a battery using lemons in order to further understand the necessary components.


 Section I

Lesson Introduction: The Voltaic Pile (~15-20 minutes)

  • Students will complete the reading on Section #1 about the Voltaic Pile, in order to understand the components of batteries and how electrons flow through them as part of a complete circuit.
  • Have students complete Quiz #1 questions

Section II

  • Students will read Section #2 called “Chemistry of a Battery and “Intro to Chemical Reactions in a Battery”

Section III

  • Students will read the section “What Happens Inside a Battery? Even More on Chemical Reactions” and the watch the “Be A Battery” video clip.
  • Student will complete Quiz #2

Lab: Lemon Battery (~30 minutes)

  • Students will follow along with the video clip and/or the written instructions to conduct the lemon battery experiment.

Post Activity Quiz Questions (~5-10 minutes)

  • After students have successfully created their lemon battery, answer the reflection questions (Quiz #3)

Student Learning Goal:

  • By the end of the lesson, students should be able to name the three major elements of a battery, the direction of electron flow, the oxidation-reduction reaction, and be able to build and explain the parts of their lemon battery.