Making Batteries from Fruits & Vegetables

Elementary and Middle School Science Fair Project
Photo © 2008 Rob Nunn, Flickr

Did you know that you can use real fruits and vegetables to create energy that will actually power a light bulb and other things? In this science fair project designed for upper-elementary students by Craig Sander of Science Buddies, your child or student will:

  • Learn how to make a battery using fruits or vegetables.
  • Explore how electricity and circuits work.
  • Experiment with different types and quantities of fruit/vegetables to determine which generates more power.

Fruit & Vegetable Batteries

Batteries are like miniature power plants where energy is created through chemical reactions. To make a simple battery, students will need three main components:

  • Electrodes. The conductive metal material that makes contact with the nonmetallic part of a circuit. For this science fair project, Sanders suggests using zinc-coated nails and copper wire.
  • Electrolyte Liquid. The liquid solution that reacts chemically when contact is made with the metal electrode. Fresh fruits and vegetables will provide the needed electrolyte liquid in this project.
  • A conductive material that will carry the electric current from the reaction site (i.e. where the electrodes meet the electrolyte liquid) to the object (or load) being powered. Sanders suggests jumper leads with alligator clips and various wires.

Project Overview

Using these basic fruit and vegetable batteries, students will complete two different experiments. In the first, students will explore how much voltage is generated by one zinc-copper potato cell and how different loads affect its performance. In the second, students will create a series of zinc-copper potato cells, testing energy output and exploring if larger loads can be supported.

For more information on the project including background information, research questions/terms, procedure, variations, and extended topics, be sure to visit the full project post at Science Buddies!