On Oct. 30, 19 students went to Argonne National Laboratory in order to "Build a Better Battery."
The group was divided into teams of three. Each team, with the guidance of an Argonne facilitator, developed a prototype battery that will be used to power a toy car.
Near the end of the visit, the teams came back together to share design approaches and come up with a cohesive design to see if their battery would power the car.
The students learned the fundamental components of a battery (metals, membrane, and electrolyte) and how they come together to generate electricity.
From there, they researched how the design of a battery can be optimized in order to meet the voltage and current requirements of the car’s motor.
The students used a unique research strategy called a “sprint” where small groups of three to four students only had about 15 minutes to investigate a specific aspect of the battery’s design.
They collected data, looked for trends, and reported back to the team. The team reviewed the small group’s recommendations and, through scientific argumentation, came to a consensus about that aspect of the battery’s design.
Students repeated so that further refinements can be made.