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Nails (zinc coated)
Alligator clips with wire
Scrap copper wire
Old scrap pieces of Romex wire works great to get copper wire. Just take the ground wire out. It is the one with no insulation directly on it. Put on safety goggles and cut wire into pieces a bit smaller then your nails. Now that you have your pieces of copper wire, we suggest you bend them. This prevents the wire from slipping around and gives a good place for the clips to hook to. Take your film canister with the lid on it and using the nail, punch two holes into the lid. Place one copper wire and one nail into each lid. Remove lids and add vinegar to canisters. Replace lids and clean any spills. We now should have close to .5 volts.
It will take 3 canisters hooked together to get us enough energy to light up the LED. We can see the light in a very dark room but to be able to get the LED to shine more or to use other colored LEDs you will need more "batteries".
Hook the "batteries" to one another by connecting the alligator clips. We will need to connect one canister to the other by copper wire to nail. The copper wire is acting as a positive and the the nail is acting as a negative. String 3 or more canisters together to get enough energy to light the LED.
Add a red LED to the 3 batteries. You will need to be in a dark room to see the light. Now add another battery, and another. See any difference? Try a yellow LED. What else could you run on these batteries? Will grapefruit juice work better?
We have had the red LED running for well over Thirty hours on the 4 batteries. Still shining!
No film canisters? You can get them on e-bay or use a cup with plastic wrap over the top. That is the way we did it the first time.
No alligator clips? We used old speaker wire that we found. It works fine.
Light not turning on? Try switching the connections to the legs of the LED. You may just have it backwards.
Our steps also available at
Ava from Ms. Huber's Class sent us this awesome link with another great way to build a battery.
Check out the additional information at http://store.intellaliftparts.com/how-to-make-a-battery.html
Cat's Science club