Potato powered light bulb

Did you know you could power a light bulb with a potato? While it looks like a complicated process, the chemical reactions that take place between two different metals and the juices in the potato create a tiny amount of voltage. Though it is very small, it can power a very small electrical device or a small light bulb. You can do this in your home too and would make a really good experiment to try out with your children. Here are simple steps to make your own potato-powered light bulb.

What materials would you need?

  1. A large potato
  2. Two pennies
  3. Two zinc-plated nails
  4. Three pieces of copper wire
  5. A very small light bulb or LED light

What do you need to do:

  1. Cut the potato in half, then cut a small slit into each half, large enough to slide a copper coin or a nickel inside
  2. Wrap some copper wire around each penny a few times. Use a different piece of wire for each penny
  3. Stick the pennies in the slits you cut into the potato halves.
  4. Wrap some of the third copper wire around one of the zinc-plated nails and stick the nail into one of the potato halves
  5. Take the wire connected to the penny in the half of the potato with the nail and wrap some of it around the second nail. Stick that second nail into the other potato half
  6. When you connect the two loose ends of the copper wires to the light bulb or LED it will light up

[source: MathinScience].

Care points: Make sure you do this under adult supervision. Be careful when handling the wires, because there is a small electric charge running through the wires. Hydrogen gas may also be a byproduct of the chemical reactions in the potato, so don’t perform the experiment near open flames or strong sources of heat. 

Bonus point: You can control the intensity of the lamp by changing the size or the number of potatoes to linkup the bulbs. LED bulbs fare better than a normal light bulb.

Do try building this light with your children, upload them and tag us in the pictures. We would love to give you a shout out.

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