Intermediate-Level Science Projects

Can You Be a Human Battery?

The information presented here will give you a general idea of how to do the project, but doesn't walk you through all the steps as is done with the penny project. Don't forget that you'll need to follow the steps of the scientific method if you're going to work on one of these projects.

While the title of this science fair project sounds a little strange, it's actually pretty neat, and not difficult to do.

You'll need a piece of special equipment called a multimeter or a DC (direct current) microammeter. These measure electrical current in a circuit, and can be found at your local Radio Shack store for about $12.

In this experiment, you'll be your very own control. Your variables could be friends, or wet hands, or gloves, and so forth.

What you're trying to make happen is to have electrons travel through your body from one metal to the other. If you can do this, you're a human battery.

To do this, mount a piece of copper metal to a piece of wood, and a piece of aluminum metal to a different piece of wood. You can find these materials at a building supply store if they're not already in your garage.

Connect one end of the multimeter to the copper, and the other to the aluminum.

Scientific Surprise

The chemical reaction that allows electrons to flow from the copper to the aluminum can't occur without an acidic solution, such as that found in a battery. In this experiment, you're providing the solution, therefore serving as the battery.

Your role in this experiment is to complete the electrical circuit from one metal to the other. By placing one hand on the copper and the other on the aluminum, the slightly acidic sweat on your hands provides the correct medium for this reaction to occur. You should see an electric current register on the multimeter. If you don't, reverse the connections and try it again.

Experiment a little bit now to find out how the current changes if you wet your hands before placing them on the metal. Doing so decreases the resistance to the flow of the electricity, causing the reading on the multimeter to be higher. You also can find out whether your friends or family members are better electrical conductors than you are.

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Science Fair Projects © 2003 by Nancy K. O'Leary and Susan Shelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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