How a battery works, 1: Batteries need these three parts. But the electrolyte, anode, and cathode may be made of different metals or materials. (RB)

How a battery works, 1: Batteries need these three parts. But the electrolyte, anode, and cathode may be made of different metals or materials. (RB)

How a battery works, 2: When a pathway is created with a conductive material like copper, electrons can flow. (RB)

How a battery works, 2: When a pathway is created with a conductive material like copper, electrons can flow. (RB)

Batteries come in a variety of types and sizes. But they all work on the same principles.

Batteries come in a variety of types and sizes. But they all work on the same principles.

Pull the Plug!

Posted: July 1, 2019

Some are as small as a fingernail. Others are as big as a car. Without them, cords would trail everywhere and power wouldn’t be portable. Pull the plug and power up! All you need is a battery.

A battery is a can full of chemicals. It’s a tiny power station that fits in your hand. Many are shaped like a cylinder. One end of the cylinder has a plus sign. The other end has a minus sign. These ends are called the positive and negative terminals. The structure of the battery keeps the terminals separated. When the terminals are connected to a “load” that links the two terminals—a flashlight or radio, for example—the battery powers up.

Have you ever poured vinegar over baking soda and seen a bubbly volcanic explosion of fizz? That is a chemical reaction. A chemical reaction happens when a chemical changes into another chemical. Inside a battery, a chemical reaction creates energy.  

Electrons are tiny parts of an atom. They hang out inside a battery until a chemical reaction happens. That reaction happens when the battery is connected to a load that links the negative and positive terminals. The moment it is connected, the electrons inside the battery start dancing! Chemicals packed inside the battery buzz to life! The party starts at the negative terminal of the battery, where extra electrons have built up. They need somewhere to go. Because the battery is connected to a load, the electrons can move through that load all the way to the positive end of the battery. That movement of electrons powers the item.

Batteries are everywhere! They’re in cell phones, gadgets, appliances, and even cars. (Could you drive a car that had to stay plugged into the wall for power?) Batteries power up fire alarms, car keys, toys, and flashlights. Imagine life without batteries. And then take time to thank God for them!