The building blocks of battery technology
Lizzie Driscoll, along with her team at the University of Birmingham, have come up with a way to explain rechargeable batteries using Jenga.
By Lizzie Driscoll
A team of chemists at the University of Birmingham have made extensive use of Jenga sets to explain rechargeable Li-ion batteries over the past year. By decorating the tower block sets to look like the electrode materials in these batteries, the team have been able to demonstrate to the general public and school children how these batteries operate and some key characteristics concerning rate of charge and degradation. The activity has been run with multiple school children, either in the classroom or as part of an energy demo lecture, and showcased at museum and festival events.
To open the activity to wider use, details on producing the battery Jenga and how to lead the activities have been published in the ACS Journal of Chemical Education ("The Building Blocks of Battery Technology: Using modified tower block game sets to explain and aid the understanding of rechargeable Li-ion batteries"; E. H. Driscoll, E. C. Hayward, R. Patchett, P. A. Anderson and P. R. Slater).
The supporting information contains details on how to reproduce the activity as well as videos explaining the set-up and demonstrations that can be run. With a number of studies finding that electrochemistry is a tricky concept to grasp within the curriculum, having a tactile and hands on demonstration can help to visualise these concepts. Educators can link battery education to electrochemical potentials, redox reactions and reaction favourability.
Watch the below demonstration video, with the added voiceover to explain the activity to educators.
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