If somebody gave you a lemon, could you make a battery? Do you know which batteries don’t need to be recycled — and which do? Should you store unused batteries in the freezer?  Let’s learn more about the often overlooked workhorse of all gadgets: the battery.

1. Who invented the battery? In what year?
a) 1748, Benjamin Franklin.
b) 1800, Alessandro Volta
c) 1902, Thomas Edison

While Edison and Franklin were very interested in storing electricity — Franklin even coined the word “battery” — according to the Energizer learning center http://bit.ly/nznne1 it was Italian Alessandro Volta who made the first “modern” battery by layering plates of silver and zinc in salt water. That’s why electricity is measure in Volts.

2. Should you store your batteries in the freezer?

No way! It won’t make them last any longer, at least according to Green Batteries http://bit.ly/tQBSm. You should also avoid cutting into a battery, because it probably contains acid.

3. My Wii remotes use a lot of AA batteries. Is it OK to throw them in the regular trash, or should they be recycled?

Throw ‘em in the trash. According to Duracell, used Alkyline batteries are safe for landfills and contain little metal that can be recycled. Rechargeable and button cell batteries are another story. Stores that cell them are required to take them back. To see a list of recyling facilities near you, visit http://www.call2recycle.org/ and enter your zip code.


4. Danger danger! What shouldn’t you do with batteries?
a) Put them in a camfire
b) Cut them open
c) Swallow them
d) All of the above

The answer is d) All of the above. Many batteries contain chemicals that could explode or burn you. Button cell batteries can be a great danger to babies and toddlers, who tend to put small things in their mouths. According to Consumer Reports, these types of batteries are in musical greeting cards or toys like the Hexbugs, and must be used carefully around little kids.


5. How many charging cycles can a typical laptop battery handle?

If you said between 300 to 500 times, you’d be right. Learn more by aking this battery quiz, http://bit.ly/qDFMB3.


6. Make your own battery and/or motor!

APPLICATION 1: Here’s how you can make your own battery out of a penny, nail, wire and lemon http://bit.ly/bLdDZw.

APPLICATION 2: In this application, you learn to make a tiny motor out of a battery, screw, wire and magnet at  http://bit.ly/pzsC7.


7. What are lithium ion battery cells?

They provide power to things like digital cameras, cell phones, laptops and cars. They can be recharged about 300 times. For example, a laptop contains about six of these cells.

At http://www.teslamotors.com, you can learn about the Tesla sports car, which carries about 600 of these cells. After an overnight charge, you would drive about 300 miles.  To follow the news about electric cars, visit

Visit our YouTube channel (see #8 below) to learn where lithium comes from, and how it is turned into a thin sheet and coiled up in order in order to be made into a battery.


8. Want more?

Visit Children’s Technology Review’s playlist (below), to view select YouTube videos based on topics in this month’s column.


lclogoLittleClickers.com (this page and the associated web site) is sponsored by Computer Explorers. Neither Children’s Technology Review (publisher of LittleClickers) or Computer Explorers has any vested interest in any of the sites listed on this page. Librarians and teachers are permitted to copy this page for non-profit use. To report a bad link, please contact us, or call 908-284-0404 (9 – 3 PM, EST). These links were selected by Warren Buckleitner.

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