Recently at our Homelearner’s Co-op, Anja led some experiments with baking soda and vinegar. Cassius asked me if I knew that some acids, like lemons and some bases can conduct electricity. When we were at home, Cassius asked Rosalind for her meter. He stuck both the ends of the meter in a lemon and was disappointed to see no reading on the meter.
Rosalind explained that the meter just measures voltage or current, it didn’t create a circuit. Rosalind was curious where he got the idea from and he said that it was from a video he had watched on BrainPOP. They watched it and Cassius said he was confused – he was thinking lemons created electricity not conduct it.
This got Rosalind thinking about making batteries from citrus fruit. She sent him the experiments included below. As it turns out, he was right, you can power things with lemon power not just conduct electricity through it
“Find a dime and penny dated before 1987 and wash them thoroughly. Have a parent cut two slits in another juicy lemon, about 1/4 inch apart, and insert the coins halfway into each slit. Stick out your tongue and touch both coins simultaneously. You’ll feel it tingling–that’s electricity!”
This picture is of Cassius and Anja testing their lemons. At first they didn’t put the coins close enough, but when they moved them, it worked.
I found Cassius’ original experiement interesting because it was something he tried because he had an idea and wanted to see if it worked. The fact that it didn’t work led him him learning even more to figure out how to make it work.
Rosalind and Cassius figured out that the penny had copper plating and the dime has nickle plating. We also figured out that the Canadians held on to having these metals in our money longer than the Americans so if we followed the American dates we should be safe. We had to soak the coins in vinegar for a while to clean off the oxidation.