Ideas Shared Lemon Battery

Q&A with 2017 Power Up Award Winner, Librarian Nancy Garza
Lemon Battery Program, Wm. J. Clinton Elementary/La Joya ISD


The 2017 Power Up Award (Branding Iron Category) was awarded to the Clinton Elementary School of La Joya ISD for its Lemon Battery Program. Read more about the program below, along with a question and answer session with the librarian.

In 2016, approximately 270 Clinton Elementary School (La Joya ISD) students participated in Power Up at Your Library Day. Clinton Elementary students created circuits using lemons, copper pennies, nails, and wire to create and charge an LED light. The experiment was a hit with many students – and above all, it was conducted in the library. Several months later during a presentation to a school board member, a student was asked, “Why do you like coming to the library?” He responded, "The library is fun. We get to work on experiments with lemons and pennies, and we made a light turn on."

For the librarian Nancy Garza, it was gratifying to hear that the experiment made an impact.
Powered Libraries asks her to share insight on the successful, school-wide event.

How did you plan for and implement this project?
Garza: While collaborating with a fellow librarian, we came across the Powered Libraries Event. We decided to look for a lesson that the kids would enjoy and impact their learning. We looked through several books and came across several activities, then we chose the lemon battery, because we knew the kids would be in disbelief that they could power up a light bulb without electricity. We purchased the materials and began testing the experiment.

Who contributed and how?
Garza: I collaborated with a fellow librarian Lisa Tanguma. She works for a neighboring district, and we like to plan together. We purchased all materials and began experimenting with different items. The experiment originally asked for lemons. We decided to try limes as well to see the difference in results. The results: we discovered that lemons generated more electricity than limes.

What creative approaches did you employ to accomplish your objectives?
Garza: A week before Power Up at Your Library Day (9/15/16), I posted a banner and a certificate outside the library letting kids and teachers know we were participating in the event. It struck the kids’ curiosity, and it also got the adults’ attention. Announcements were made the week of, and students started coming into the library to see what was going on. Due to the size of the campus and the amount of interest, the lesson was extended and lasted two weeks. That is how long it took to see all the classes that participated.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Garza: I really enjoyed looking for activities that the kids would enjoy. Libraries are definitely moving in a different direction, and students are enjoying the activities they are experiencing. It's not just “sit and read in the library” anymore. It's experiment, tinker, create, and get loud and dirty in the library.