Light a Bulb with a Balloon Experiment

First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this experiment:

• A balloon
• A fluorescent light bulb
• A dark room
• Parental supervision

Are you ready? Let’s get started. The first thing you’ll need to do is to take the fluorescent light bulb and the balloon into a dark room. Charge the balloon by rubbing it on your hair or on your sweater. You will need to rub it quickly and repeatedly to build up a lot of charge for this experiment. Very carefully, touch the charged balloon to the light bulb. When doing this, please make sure that you have adult supervision just in case the light bulb happens to break. What happened? You should see some small sparks in the light bulb.
So how did the light bulb spark or light? When the charged balloon touched the bulb, electrons passed from the balloon to the bulb causing the bulb to emit small sparks of light. Under normal circumstances, the light bulb would receive the electrons from the electric power lines through a wire at the end of the tube. Cool, huh?

Here is another idea that you could do to change up the project a little bit and see what happens. You could try a rubber comb for this experiment rather than a balloon. Does it have the same effect on the light bulb?

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Oersted’s Experiment

First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this experiment:

• A battery power pack
• 1 small non-metallic bowl
• A needle
• Modeling clay
• Cork – ¼” slice off of a large cork
• A horseshoe magnet
• #22 insulated copper wire, 2 feet long w/ insulation stripped at both ends
• A switch
• Tape

Are you ready? Let’s get started. First you need to rub the needle repeatedly from the center to end with the magnet. Then tape the needle to the cork and place in a small bowl of water. Watch the direction of the needle when you place the magnet near it. Next, place the wire over the top of the dish and secure it with clay. Connect one end of the wire to the switch. Connect wire from the switch to the negative terminal on the battery pack. Connect the wire from the other end of the bowl to the positive terminal on the battery pack. Close the switch. Congratulations! You’ve just completed the same experiment that Oersted did back in 1819.

What is happening? Can you figure it out? When the electric current is flowing, there is a magnetic field around the circuit. Essentially, when the current is flowing, the magnetic needle is deflected at right angles to the circuit wire. Because of this experiment, electromagnetism was discovered.

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How to Build a Galvanometer

First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this project:

• A battery power pack
• A compass
• A strip of 3” x 5” metal from a can
• The floating needle from Oersted’s Experiment
• #22 insulated copper wire
• 1” X 3” cardboard strip
• A switch
• 4 nails

Are you ready? Let’s get started. Wrap wire around the floating needle (the floating needle needs to be set up like the one in Oersted’s Experiment) dish 5 times. Connect one wire end with the insulation stripped off to the switch then connect another wire end with the insulation stripped off from the switch to the negative terminal of the battery. Connect the wire from the dish to the positive terminal of the power pack. Close the switch and observe how far and fast the needle turns.

What happened? Did it work? It should have. If not, make sure your wires are connected securely. You could also try wrapping the wire around the dish 5 more times to see if the needle turned farther and faster than before.

Luigi Galvani invented the galvanometer. He happened to invent this device by discovering that the leg of a frog twitched when touched by an electrically charged scalpel.

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Bending Water Experiment

First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this experiment:

• 1 plastic comb
• A sink
• A water faucet

Are you ready? Let’s get started. First, you need to turn on the faucet so that the water runs out in a small, steady stream. The water stream should be no more than 1/8 inch thick. Next you’ll want to give the plastic comb and electrical charge. You can do this by running it through your hair (as long as your hair is dry) a few times or you can rub it quickly and repeatedly against a sweater. Finally take the comb and slowly bring it towards the water. What happened? Did you see the water bend?

So why did the water bend? Basically, the water is neutral and doesn’t have any electric charge. Because the comb is near the water and it is electrically charged, the water then becomes attracted to it and moves towards the comb. Cool, huh?

Here is another idea that you could do to change up the project a little bit and see what happens. You could try using a balloon instead of a comb. Make sure you charge the balloon the same way you charged the comb.

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Water Electrolysis Experiment

First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this project:

• A 9 volt battery
• 2 pencils – remove the eraser and metal part on the ends
• Salt
• Thin cardboard
• Electrical wire
• Small glass
• Water

Are you ready? Let’s get started. Both pencils need to be sharpened on both ends. Cut a piece of the cardboard to fit over the glass and push both pencils through the cardboard so that the pencils are about an inch apart. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt into the water and let sit for a few minutes. Next connect one end of one of the wires to the positive terminal of the battery and the other end to the lead of the pencil. Repeat with the other wire attaching it to the negative terminal of the battery. Place the other ends of the pencils down into the salt water mixture.
What happened? As the electricity from the battery passes through the pencils, the water splits into hydrogen and chlorine gas which appear as very tiny bubbles on each pencil tip. The reason it splits into hydrogen and chlorine rather than hydrogen and oxygen is because salt was added to the water. The chlorine gas comes from the chloride in the salt. The chlorine gas will collect around the pencil tip connected to the positive terminal of the battery (the anode) and the hydrogen gas will collect around the pencil tip that is connected to the negative terminal of the battery (the cathode).

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Does Cold Affect Hearing Aid Battery Life?

First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this project:

• 3 hearing aids
• 3 hearing aid batteries to fit the above hearing aids
• A refrigerator
• A freezer
• 2 refrigerator/freezer thermometers
• A battery tester
• A hearing aid dehumidifier

Are you ready? Let’s get started. We will test the batteries in 3 different situations. The first is at room temperature. Basically just leave this battery out and test it at the same time the other two batteries are tested. The second battery is placed in the refrigerator at a constant temperature (you will need to place the thermometer in the refrigerator to record the temps at every testing). And the third battery is placed in the freezer (you’ll need a thermometer for the freezer as well). Test the voltage of all 3 batteries at the same time each day 3 times a day until the batteries and hearing aids are no longer working. Each evening place the batteries from the refrigerator and freezer in the hearing aid dehumidifier to remove all of the moisture from the hearing aid.

What happened? What is your conclusion for this test? In most cases the colder temperatures will negatively affect the life of the hearing aid battery even though the moisture from the colder temperatures is removed each night. When compared to the manufacturer’s recommended battery life, the battery that was in the refrigerator lost 31 hours of life and the battery that was in the freezer lost 151 hours of life.

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Is Soil an Electrical System?

First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this experiment:

• ¼ cup of clay type soil
• 1 pint glass or plastic beaker – 500mL
• 6 volt dry-charge lantern battery
• 2 pieces of 12 gauge, multi-strand copper wire

Are you ready? Let’s get started. Place 60 grams of the soil into the pint glass then add 500 mL of tap water. Stir up the container until the soil is completely mixed with the water then let the mixture settle for at least 10 minutes. Strip the electrical wires on each ends about 2 inches. Attach one end of both of the wires to the terminals on the battery and place the other ends into the soil mixture making sure that the wires are not touching while in the container.

**Make a note as to which wire was connected to the positive end of the battery and which one was attached to the negative end.**

Leave the wires in the mixture for about 10 to 15 minutes and then pull them out to see what happened.
What happened? Which wire do you think would have attracted the clay? As it turns out, the minerals in the clay mixture should have been attracted to the wire attached to the positive end of the battery (the anode) and the plant nutrients should have been attracted to the wire attached to the negative end of the battery (the cathode). We’ve learned here that most plant nutrients bond to clay surfaces and it also confirms that soils are electrical chemical systems that provide potential to attract and hold plant nutrients. The greater the clay concentration in the soil the greater the potential to hold nutrients and make them available to plants.

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Electrodes & Electrolytes Experiment

First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this study:

• Zinc sheet
• Copper sheet
• Lead sheet
• Zinc nitrate solution 200 ml
• Copper nitrate solution 200 ml
• Lead nitrate solution 200 ml
• Porous cup
• 2 Beakers
• 1 Voltmeter
• Gloves
• Safety goggles
• A piece of sandpaper
• A couple of feet of wire

Are you ready? Let’s get started. First, make sure you put on the safety glasses and gloves. Grab the sandpaper and rub the zinc, copper and lead sheets to remove any debris. Pour 100 ml of zinc nitrate into a beaker and drop the zinc sheet into the solution. Pour 50 ml of the copper nitrate into the porous cup and drop the copper sheet into that solution. Cut 2 pieces of wire – about 10 cm in length for each of them. Connect one wire to the copper sheet and the other end to the voltmeter. Repeat with the other wire using the zinc sheet. Place the cup into the beaker and record the reading on the voltmeter. Repeat this process 5 times and record all readings. Take your other beaker and pour 100 ml of lead nitrate solution into it. Place the copper strip into the solution followed by the porous cup (after it’s been rinsed in distilled solution. Record reading on the voltmeter and repeat this process 5 times.

What happened? Our observations suggest that the lead-copper cell produces the most voltage in a battery. What findings do you come up with?

There are a couple of other ideas that you could do to change up the project a little bit and see what happens. You could try adding more of the electrolyte solution, increasing the temperature of the solution or replacing materials used in this project with different ones.

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How to Build Your Own Telegraph

First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this project:

• 2 pieces of cardboard – 20cm X 10cm
• 2 pieces of cardboard – 3cm X 8cm
• 3 pieces of wire all 19cm long
• 1 D battery – 1.5 volt
• 4 thumbtacks
• 2 buzzers – each 1.5 volt
• Wire strippers
• Pliers
• Masking Tape

Are you ready? Let’s get started. First, take the wire strippers and remove about 2cm of insulation off each end of the wires. Identify each wire by wrapping a piece of tape around them and marking them A, B, and C. Cut a piece of cardboard from one of the pieces of smaller cardboard about 2cm from one end. Repeat with the other small piece of cardboard. Tape those smaller pieces to the right side of the larger pieces of cardboard – these pieces of cardboard will act as the switches. Tape the battery to the center of one of the large pieces of cardboard. Next tape two of the short wires to the negative end of the battery making sure the wires are touching the metal part on the bottom of the battery. Push a tack into the large piece of cardboard underneath the switch then take one of the ends of wire attached to the battery and hook it around the tack. Tape the buzzer to the other side of the large piece of cardboard. Attach the other wire that’s taped to the battery to the black wire from the buzzer making sure that the metal parts are touching one another. Push a tack up through the underside of the cardboard switch. When you push the switch down, the two tacks must be touching. Hook one end of wire A around the tack, tape one end of wire B to the positive end of the battery and attach one end of wire C to the red buzzer wire. Push a tack through the other piece of large cardboard below the free end of the switch. Attach one end of wire B and the remaining end of the short wire around the tack. Tape a buzzer to the other side of the cardboard and attach the remaining free end of the short wire. Attach the free end of wire A to the other side of the buzzer and push a tack up through the underside of the cardboard switch (remember when the switch is pushed, the tacks need to be touching). Lastly, attach the free end of wire C around the tack. And that should be it! You’ll be sending morse code in no time.

What happened? Did the buzzer sound? It should have. Pushing down on the switches completes the circuit and sounds the buzzer on the opposite piece of cardboard. If it doesn’t work, check all of your connections. Then try again.

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What Happens when you Blow a Fuse?

First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this project:
• A 6 or 12 volt lantern battery
• A length of wire with alligator clips attached to each end
• Very fine iron wire – about 5 to 6 inches long
• Adult supervision
Are you ready? Let’s get started. First, attach one of the alligator clips to one of the battery terminals. Attach one end of the iron wire to the other terminal on the battery. Next, attach the other alligator clip to the iron wire making sure that the clip is as far away from the terminal as possible.
What happened? Did you blow a fuse? If you didn’t, move the clip on the iron wire a little closer to the battery and watch to see what happens. Keep repeating this process until the fuse blows but use caution because the wire gets VERY hot.
Why/how would the fuse blow? Fine iron wire is a good conductor of electricity. When you attach the alligator clip to the iron wire, the voltage of the battery pushes electrons through the circuit against the resistance of the wire causing the wire to heat up. As you move the clip closer to the battery, the resistance in the wire decreases. Since the resistance in the wire is lower, more current flows and the wire heats up more and more eventually melting the wire.
Here is another other idea that you could do to change up the project a little bit and see what happens. You could try this project using pieces of aluminum foil ¼ inch wide by 6 inches long. When the aluminum gets hot you will see an array of various colors.

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