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Making a Battery and Energy Transformations

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Keywords: Battery
Subject(s): Math, Physics
Grade 7
School: Nooksack Valley Middle School, Everson, WA
Planned By: Susan Elise Cabre-Vondrell
Original Author: Susan Elise Cabre-Vondrell, Everson
1) Students will be allotted 5 minutes of private think time for the following question , "What do you think makes a battery work?"
2) Students thinking and justifications will be then privately recorded in their science journals.
3) A whole class sharing will then happen, student's ideas will be recorded on butcher paper for a public record. Amongst student thinking, ideas should be presented (based upon past experience) that a battery has to have some metals and maybe something else to work...like electricity (as in the idea of recharging batteries).
4) Teacher will then announce that groups will be receiving a lab tray of materials : copper and zinc strips, blotter paper, rubber band, tape, and light bulb with wire connector in which they have 8 minutes to exchange ideas with their group members and assemble what they think makes a battery.
5) Students will be called up to share their designs under the document camera (with image portrayed by the portable projector ). Some student groups might come up with an assembly of blotter paper sandwiched between the copper and zinc strips (rubber banded together) with the wire connector light bulb properly taped at the top of the two metal strips. This is an appropriate design, but students will realize that the bulb did not light, and therefore their battery assembly not successful.
6) Guide the students to think of another material needed in order for their battery assembly's to work. Students might come up with the idea of some chemicals as batteries should be "properly disposed of" as they contain chemicals. Proceed to tell the students that you have just the right chemicals that might be able to produce the results they are looking for (lighting of the bulb, and thus success in their assembly of a battery).
7) Students will then receive a copper sulfate solution in a glass container (2 L or 250 g of Cupric sulfate pentahydrate crystals and 1 L of water) . Be sure safety tips have been shared with the students before distributing solution.
8) Students will dip their copper-zinc assembly into the solution, and within minutes see the bulb light due to the chemical reactions occurring between the two metals and the solution. (Further extensions : the chemistry behind how this happens).
9) Students will then be prompted to discuss what is needed to make a (wet cell) battery work. The big idea that students will want to carry away with is that batteries do not store electricity, but chemical energy that gets transformed into electrical and heat energy.
10) Students can then proceed to extend the investigation by correctly identifying a manipulated ( time battery assembly in solution) and responding (light duration) variable and then graph the correlation they observe using correct scale and intervals. Further discussion could entail what they see happening to the graph and why this occurs. Other extensions could lead to how might a dry cell battery work ? How could we get the wet cell battery you made to last longer or for the bulb to be more intense.
11) Students will then complete an energy transfer diagram that will identify the battery as the energy source in which their was a decrease in chemical energy while the energy receiver, (the light bulb) had an increase in thermal energy. The energy that was transformed during this interaction was electrical energy.
Our classroom already has a document camera, but our projector is no longer functioning. The projector is our life line for images to be displayed by the document camera, Smartboard software and computer for both math and science. Please read my profile to learn more in how you can help our high poverty school out - thanks !
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Math graphing and statistics (measures of central tendency and range)
Research how batteries have progressed over the years and how students can make other models of batteries.
Materials: Portable
Other Items: 1 Portable Projector, $900 each, total of $900.00