|Voltaic pile picture taken from a school book from 1876.Source: Wikipedia|
The voltaic pile, invented by Alessandro Volta in 1800, was the first electric battery. Volta stacked several pairs of alternating copper and zinc discs separated by cloth or cardboard soaked in salt water. When the top and bottom contacts were connected by a wire, an electric current flowed through the voltaic pile and the connecting wire.
|penny, soaked cotton pad, aluminum foil, penny soaked cotton pad, aluminum foil|
To make your own Voltaic Pile, you will need two pennies, two pieces of aluminum foil cut into the same size and shape as the penny, two pieces of cotton pads, also cut into the same size and shape as the penny, some vinegar, a clothes pin and something to be powered by your battery. We used the sound chip out of our Envirobattery Kit. You could also use a tiny light bulb in a socket or a LCD watch with connective wires.
Soak the cotton pad circles in a small amount of vinegar. We are using vinegar because it is more acidic and works better than salt-water. The cotton pads should not be so wet that they are dripping, so squeeze them out a little before you begin stacking them.
Build your battery by stacking the discs into a sandwich in the order in the first picture...penny, soaked cotton pad, aluminum foil, penny soaked cotton pad, aluminum foil.
Place the positive (red) wire from the, in this case, sound chip on the penny side of the pile, and the negative (black) wire on the aluminum foil side of the pile.
Clip the pile inside the clothespin to keep it tightly together.
Now your battery should work! It produces a very small amount of electricity, but it should power a small light, a watch or a sound chip.