BATH TOWNSHIP — Eleven-year-old Anna Grondolsky is one step closer to creating an organic zinc-copper battery that is powerful, but won’t overheat and explode.
The Bath Middle School fifth-grader first started the work for a school science fair. She won, and then took her experiment to the Ohio Northern University Science Day. Earning a superior rating, she will now compete at the State Science Day on May 11 at Ohio State University.
“I thought I would do OK and hoped I would get a superior rating, but I didn’t think I would,” she said. “I practiced over and over again before the judges came. I was nervous that they were watching me, but excited at the same time.”
Anna scored 38 out of 40 at the school fair and judges gave her a 36 and 37 out of 40 at the ONU event.
Anna put zinc-copper batteries inside various fruits and vegetables. Using a digital multimeter, she measured which produced the most voltage for each electrolyte. After three tries, she determined the mango did the best, while the acorn squash did the worst.
“It had more acid or pH,” she explained why the mango did better. “The acorn squash didn’t have a lot of acid.”
Anna learned from her experiment that if she wants to make an organic battery, the mango is the way to go. She is pretty sure she should stay away from vegetables, coming to the conclusion that the voltage won’t be high enough.
She will do some more work and tweaking before the state competition.
“I am going to try to find what the pH level is for each and maybe add more vocabulary and improve my oral presentation,” she said. “I am nervous, but pretty confident.”
Anna has always liked science and started thinking about creating a battery after seeing a news story about lithium-ion batteries and problems some were having with the batteries overheating.
She is already thinking about next year’s science fair. She wants to figure out how many zinc-copper-mango batteries are needed to power a flashlight.
A future doctor, Anna said she knows science and math will be important. Her parents told her so. At first Anna thought she might follow her mom into anesthesiology, but has since decided on brain surgery.
“Last summer I was reading books about the brain, trying to learn more about that,” she said.
Anna plays the flute in the school band and is on the Quiz Bowl team. She is a straight-A student and says she works hard at it.
“I like to play and stuff, but I know that school is more important,” she said. “If I want to get the job I want to have then I have to focus on school.”