This summer to help keep us busy and stop those cries of ‘I’m bored’ VARTA have set a series of Creative Summer Challenges. L and I have been having a blast completing them and learning something new, so it is my pleasure to share them with you.
VARTA Creative Summer Challenge #1 – Build a Potato Clock
I was so excited to do this with L, it took me straight back to science lessons at school and I just knew it would fascinate him.
Potatoes (and other fruit and veg) contain sugar, water and acid. This reacts with certain metals, copper and zinc in our case, turning them into electrodes which when set up to create a flow from positive to negative have enough power to run a digital clock.
Before we started this challenge I sat down with L and asked if he wanted to make a clock. I asked him what he thought we would need. Then I showed him the kit and asked if he thought it would work.
At not quite five years old L was potentially a bit young for this challenge, to make the clock he thought we would need sticks, a spinner and batteries. This makes sense when you realise the wall clock in his room is a standard clock with hands.
He understood the digital clock element when I showed him. He also laughed at me when I said I was going to use a potato and an apple to power it. He thought I was being silly.
I fixed all the wires in place for him and explained about the positive and negative charges and the different types of metal creating a reaction with the juices inside the fruit and veg. How much he understood I don’t know but he was listening and questioning and I was googling to get answers, apparently I have forgotten all my science lessons since leaving school.
Then he helped me push the zinc and copper plates into the potato and into the apple and his little face when he saw the clock turn on was magical. He was so proud of what he had helped to create, I think I’m going to be replacing potatoes for some time to come!
We had a little kit from the Science Museum that also explains some other experiments you can do to test different fruits, veg and even fizzy drinks against each other. A great way to spend the day if you’ve got a bit too hot outside and as a major plus for me it’s completely mess free, involves hardly any preparation and has instant results.
This was a great first challenge and a lovely way to spend some time with L talking about things I would have never thought to otherwise, real learning that’s really fun.
Fore more inspiration see:
Disclosure – VARTA have provided us with all the kit to complete our summer challenges. All thoughts, opinions and images are my own.