Everyday Science: How to know if your batteries are dead or alive

8 Sep

Running an outreach program, one of the tasks that I get to ask my student assistant to do is to clean up the outreach lab after we run a month of summer camp activities. This involves putting supplies back to their boxes, updating the inventory list so that I can find things around, sharpening all the colour pencils, and…checking whether the batteries are dead of alive. We order batteries in bulk for many of our hands-on electronics activities, and at any given time we probably have 100+ batteries in storage…

Obviously, our go-to is the multimeter (given that it is a physics lab…) and we go by the voltage of each battery, one by one. However, a friend of mine (Thanks Jone!) sent me the following video – a easy way to check batteries, and a bit of science (dare I say physics?) behind it.

(it’s an old video from 2013, but was recently picked up by Lifehacker)

Well, guess this will be a standard video that I will use as part of my student assistant training…!


2 Responses to “Everyday Science: How to know if your batteries are dead or alive”

  1. Artem Kaznatcheev September 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    You can do something similar with eggs: if it spins then it’s cooked, if it wobbles then it isn’t cooked. Same ‘anti-bounce’ idea, but it is easier to saw an egg in half… and probably not a good idea to try bouncing them.

    • Terrific T September 8, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

      I remember reading someone saying that you could do the spinning thing with batteries as well. Actually using eggs is a great idea, perhaps something I do as a hands-on with the kids!

      (and, we could bounce them too, during our egg drop activity…hmmmm)


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