STEAM Activity: Light It Up...with Potatoes!


Deliver energy to people cut off from electricity grids with potatoes! Place a penny and a galvanized nail inside a potato, connect them to wires and LEDs, and you can provide lighting to remote towns and villages around the world! 

The People’s Climate March is coming up this Friday, September 21! Well over 100,000 people will be filling the streets of New York City, to bring the people’s voice to the UN Climate Summit happening on September 23. You can, of course, join the march and also engage in important discussions around clean energy by building potato batteries! 

Here is to GIANT Kids who dream of a greener planet, and dare to join forces in taking care of our home - one small step at a time. 


Challenge: Light It Up…with Potatoes!
Recommended for Ages: 3 to 12 years old


  • Potatoes

  • Pennies 

  • Galvanized nails

  • Alligator clips 

  • LEDs 

  • Arts and crafts materials including recycled materials such as bottles, boxes, cardboard, duct tape, markers, you name it!

Build Your Circuit:

Like any other battery, your potato battery needs a positive and a negative terminal. Cut your battery in half and insert a clean penny and a galvanized nail in your potato to become its terminals. Make sure the two metals don’t touch each other. 

Hint #1: If you place the two metals closer to each other, the chances are you’ll get more voltage 

Hint #2: Insert the metals all the way in and just leave a small part out so you can attach alligator clips to them

Hint #3: Penny is your battery’s Positive terminal and the nail is its negative terminal 

Connect the positive terminal to the longer side of your LED, and the negative terminal to its shorter side. 

Did your battery turn on the LED? If not, connect multiple potato batteries in series to add up their voltage! 


Connecting Your Potatoes in Series and Parallel:

You can connect multiple potato cells in series and parallel to add up voltage and current, and perhaps light up a whole string of LEDs!! 

To connect potato cells in series, connect the positive terminal of one potato to the negative terminal of another, all in series. This way you add up their voltages.  

To connect potato cells in parallel, connect positive terminals of multiple potatoes together, and their negative terminals together. This way you add up the current they produce. 

To increase both voltage and current, connect multiple potato cells in series and then connect the groups in parallel! 

Sky is the limit! Go GIANT with your potato powered inventions!! 


Take It One Step Further:

Build something and light it up with your potato batteries! 

A blizzard lamp? A potato man with LED’s as his eyes? A mouse with its tail lit up? You name it, build it, and share with us using #GIANTSTEAMGuide