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Month: October 2021

Frankenstein’s Battery: La-BOO-ratory Manual

Frankenstein’s Battery La-BOO-ratory Manual

It’s alive, it’s allliiiiiiiiive!!! Your enthusiasm for electrochemistry that is. The La-BOO-ratory Manual, Frankenstein’s Battery, combines creativity with the principles of electrochemistry in a Halloween-themed way. Sounds like a lot, right? But this fun and simple experiment engages students to express themselves while exploring the wonderful world of science. 

The premise of the experiment is to use pieces of produce (i.e. potatoes, lemons, etc.) to construct a monster head and then turn that monster head into an electrochemical cell. Students use markers to draw Frankenstein faces on their produce and then, with PASCO’s Wireless Voltage Sensor, detect the voltage once they insert copper wire and a galvanized nail into their monster head. The data is graphed in SPARKvue to let students visualize the voltage readings and witness science in action. Students can also continue to combine electrochemical cells and make a battery to witness how a series connection affects voltage readings. 

This experiment ensures to spark students’ interests and scare them straight to a thorough understanding of electricity principles.

The way the Frankenstein Battery works is actually focused on the copper wire and galvanized nail, rather than the produce itself. The electricity comes from the electrodes made of the copper wire and the zinc-coated nail. The produce simply conducts the ions between the electrodes, so it can be called an ionic conductor. Attaching the wires completes the electrical circuit and the positive and negative ions will be conducted through the produce. The difference in electrical potential energy is what the Wireless Voltage Sensor measures and records in SPARKvue. 

Produce that is high in potassium, sodium, and acidity make good Frankenstein Batteries due to the high amount of superconductive ions. This means the positive/negative ions that must be conducted through the produce will do so at a more efficient rate in produce that’s higher in sodium than produce that’s lower in sodium. Good Frankenstein Batteries must also have a strong internal structure for efficient conduction. This is why potatoes make such awesome Frankenstein Batteries while produce like tomatoes won’t be as great due to their messy internal structure. 

Electrochemistry may seem like a monster of a topic, but engaging experiments like Frankenstein’s Battery will surely produce positive results with students. 

This experiment is one of the many ways to use science to express creativity. Enabling students to create monsters and be engaged with a Halloween theme will further the combination of art into science exploration. Science is a wonder-filled world that provokes curiosity, and art is a form of unique self-expression that promotes creativity. In addition to the principles of electricity, this experiment teaches students that they don’t have to choose between creativity and curiosity. 

Back in the Saddle

Life has been very interesting for the past 18 months. Did I say interesting? I meant challenging. With a global pandemic in force, how does education adapt? In my area, students had several months of online only learning, followed by online four days a week, then 3 days a week. Some students had full-time school, but they did only 2 classes a day. One class for the entire morning and one in the afternoon. New classes roughly every 10 weeks. How do you teach under these conditions? How do you teach science under these conditions? How do students learn under these conditions?

This blog won’t focus on that though. We are back at full time regular school (albeit with masks) for the first time since March of 2019. The focus is how do we reengage students? How do we bring back that sense of wonder and amazement of the world around them? For me, the answer is almost always the same; do hands on work. Experimentation is science and that is where the magic happens.

Once the dust settled of courses being filled, I knew I need students doing lab work. I couldn’t wait too long. It didn’t need to be anything complicated or deep, I just needed them to be hooked. Enter my PASCO Spark, the MatchGraph app and some Smart Carts.

Just bringing out the equipment got the students excited. “What are those?” I heard more than once. “Do we get to use them?” We did a quick run through and started on the first graph. The energy in the room was off the charts. There was so much buzz; arguments on who could do it better, what were they doing right, what were they doing wrong. This is what a classroom should be and such a simple way to get it.

Soon students were mastering the first linear graph and were looking very proud of themselves. I then told them there were more graphs. Deflation, curiosity and excited sped across their faces (at least their eyes) and they quickly started trying them. Carts were flying across the tabletops. 45 minutes passed in a blink and when I told them class was coming to an end and the equipment needed to be put away there were actual groans. They wanted to keep going! More than one student asked if we were going to use the equipment again. My answer was simple: tomorrow.

The students are hooked. They are excited to be learning. All it took was a little bit of learning play with my Smart carts and PASCO MatchGraph.


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  • A big thanks for all the help and support you provided – I want to take some time to say a big thanks for all the help and support you provided me to select the best equipment in order to make the best possible use of the funds available. It is really exceptional that you happily connected with me multiple times even during the weekend and was always motivated to help. Please accept my big thanks for this.

    Gurpreet Sidhu | Physics Instructor | University College of North | The Pas, MB

  • Wireless Spectrometer Big Hit With Students – PASCO’s wireless spectrometer has been utilized very well by our earth science and physical science teachers. It’s an excellent piece of equipment and we have very much enjoyed its addition to enriching our classroom. It definitely brings students to a higher level of understanding wave interaction at a molecular level.

    Matt Tumbach | Secondary Instructional Technology Leader | Tommy Douglas Collegiate | Saskatoon, SK

  • Excellent Smart Cart – I thought the cart was excellent. The quick sampling rate for force will be very useful for momentum and collision labs we do. I’m recommending we include this in our order for next school year.

    Reed Jeffrey | Science Department Head | Upper Canada College | Toronto ON

  • Your lab equipment is of the highest quality and technical support is always there to help. During the 25 years we have used a wide array of lab equipment including computer interfacing. Your Pasco line has a high profile in our lab and will continue to do so far into the future.

    Bob Chin | Lab Technician | Kwantlen Polytechnic University | Surrey, BC

  • Datalogging Activities are Cross-Curricular

    Throughout the province of Nova Scotia, PASCO’s probeware technology has been merged with the rollout of the new P-6 curriculum. We chose a number of sensors for use with our project-based activities. Both the functionality and mobility of PASCO’s dataloggers enable students to collect authentic, real-world data, test their hypotheses and build knowledge.

    Mark Richards | Technology Integration Consultant | Annapolis Valley R.S.B. | Nova Scotia

  • We have a large number of PASCO wireless spectrometers and love how they have improved the learning experience for our students.

    Shawn McFadden | Technical Specialist | Ryerson University | Toronto, Ontario

  • During distance learning due to COVID-19 school shut down, I was given a short window to collect what I could from my classroom to teach online. The PASCO wireless sensors and Smart Carts were my top priority to collect to implement distance learning. By sharing experimental data with students via SPARKVue, the sensors were pivotal in creating an online experience that still allowed students to grow with their lab skills. It was easy to record videos of the data collection and share the data with my students. They did a phenomenal job examining and interpreting the data.


    Michelle Brosseau | Physics Teacher | Ursuline College Chatham | Chatham, Ontario

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