Sense Blog

Fun Energy Projects for Kids

If you’re looking for ways to distract your kids while teaching them something new, here are some simple projects to show children how electricity works. Static electricity and the flow of electricity are fundamental elements of nature and an essential part of our daily lives. The team at Sense found some at-home experiments that are a safe introduction for kids. Share your child’s final creation with us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter by tagging us (@Sense) in your post!

1 | Build a Battery out of Pennies

Batteries are sources of power for a majority of devices at home and have become power sources for electric vehicles and more. This home experiment demonstrates how a homemade wet-cell battery works by showing how the evaporation of the electrolyte correlates to the voltage the battery produces.

Recommended Ages: 9 to 13
Estimated Time: 20 Minutes

Materials Checklist:

  • 5-7 pennies (must be copper outside and zinc inside)
  • Paper towels or other absorbent material
  • Lemon juice (salt or vinegar works too)
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape (recommended)
  • 3mm LED

See instructions here.

2 | Homemade Wigglebot

Using a DC battery and some basic household supplies, this is a great activity to demonstrate how to hook up a simple DC motor to a battery. The vibrations are caused by an off-balance motor, the markers shift around the paper and make interesting patterns. While the wigglebot isn’t technically a robot, it is definitely entertaining for younger kids.

Recommended Ages: 6 to 11
Estimated Time: 30 Minutes
Example Video: https://youtu.be/sz_232n29WM

Materials Checklist:

See instructions here.

3 | Make Your Own Electromagnet

With this experiment, you can demonstrate how an electromagnet uses an electrical current to produce a magnetic field. Unlike a traditional permanent magnet, electromagnet strength can be altered with the amount of electric current running through it. Try out each size battery listed in the materials to demonstrate how the strength of the magnet can be altered to lift heavier objects.

Did you know? Electric motors are a type of electromagnet, and modern cars have multiple parts that rely on electromagnetics to move or generate electricity!

Recommended Ages: 6-11
Estimated Time: 15 Minutes

Materials Checklist:

  • Batteries: one 9V, one 6V, one 1.5V
  • Battery terminals
  • One 60cm insulated wire length
  • One 20cm long steel screw or bolt
  • Paperclips or measured iron weights

See instructions here.

4 | Making Lightning

Lightning occurs when a spark of moving electrons travels up or down between a cloud, the ground or the air. This easy, at-home experiment demonstrates what’s happening when lightning strikes at a much smaller scale with static electricity. For this at-home experiment, we aren’t generating anywhere close to the amount of electricity found in a lightning strike but still recommend adult help and supervision.

Did you know? Each lightning strike contains up to 1 billion volts of electricity! That’s enough to power a 60-watt light bulb for six months with some extra energy to spare.

Recommended Ages: 7+
Estimated Time: 15 Minutes

Materials Checklist:

  • Pencil with eraser
  • Glue
  • Aluminum tray or pie tin
  • Wool cloth
  • Styrofoam tray
  • Thumbtack

See instructions here.