The list of homemade inventions is always growing, and some of the most interesting haven't even been invented yet. A fun idea like making batteries out of potatoes could be enough to get an inventive mind started on a world-changing innovation. Some items that people use every day, such as earmuffs and crayon holders, as well as some that kids love, such as popsicles and trampolines, were invented by children. Here are three ideas to get the creative juices flowing.
Batteries From Potatoes
Maybe you didn't know that potatoes conduct electricity, but they can, and so can lemons, apples, bananas and strawberries. To make a basic potato battery, stick a length of bare copper wire in one end of the potato and a galvanized nail in the other end, as far from the copper wire as possible, That's your battery. To test it, wrap a thin copper wire around the nail and another thin copper wire around the large copper wire and then connect those wires to alligator clips. Connect the clips to an LED bulb you salvaged from an old string of Christmas lights. If you have a large enough potato, the bulb should light.
Now that you know the way to make a potato battery, you can double the voltage by adding another potato wired in the same way. Wire the potatoes in series, which means to connect the nail on one of the potatoes to the copper wire on the other. This leaves a free nail and copper wire to which to attach the alligator clips. You can connect as many potatoes as you want in this way, and use the potatoes to power a clock, a flashlight or something else you dream up. Here's a tip to help make a stronger battery: You can increase the battery power in each potato by boiling it.
Solar-Powered Wood Engraver
Speaking of batteries, you can make an engraver for burning designs into wood with nothing but a AA battery, some hot melt glue, a pair of metal tweezers, some solder and some braided copper wire. Here's how to do it:
Glue the tweezers to the body of the battery so that the prongs extend about an inch over one end. Solder one length of copper wire to each of the battery terminals – you may need to get the help of an adult to do this. Wrap one of the wires around one of the tweezer prongs and the other wire around the other prong. Now when you press the tweezers against a wood surface with enough force to close the prongs, they'll get hot enough to burn your signature – or any other design – into the wood.
Want to make your engraver solar powered? Use a rechargeable battery and when it runs out of power, disconnect the wires from the tweezers and tape them to the battery terminals of a solar landscape light. Put the light in the sun and in a few hours, your engraver should be fully charged.
Nature-Made Deodorizing Spritzer
When the bathroom needs an air freshener, most people reach for a synthetic product in an aerosol container that fills the air with artificial odors. Wouldn't it be great if you could spritz the air with natural fruit spray? Here's a way to do it:
Find a small pump spray bottle that's empty. Clean it thoroughly with water and cut off the bottom so that the tube that's inside sticks out by about 2 inches. Poke the tube through the peel of a fresh orange and squeeze the orange while you pump the sprayer to fill the air with fresh fragrance directly from the fruit. You can also use the spritzer to add flavor to your salad or to a glass of ice water.
About the Author
Chris Deziel holds a Bachelor's degree in physics and a Master's degree in Humanities, He has taught science, math and English at the university level, both in his native Canada and in Japan. He began writing online in 2010, offering information in scientific, cultural and practical topics. His writing covers science, math and home improvement and design, as well as religion and the oriental healing arts.