Lincoln-Way East “Builds a Better Battery” at Argonne National Laboratory
Thursday, October 31, 2019

On October 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 3-4 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.

“Thank you so much for putting this together and you giving us this opportunity! It was really fun to work with other students to accomplish one goal. I hope to do something like this again,” said junior Erica Strojny.

“Thank you for the opportunity today at Argonne. It was really cool, and my favorite part was problem solving to make the best battery we could,” said senior Ryan Gibbons.

“Thank you for letting me go on this trip! It was really cool to see all the actual scientists around the cafeteria and buildings!” said sophomore Leyla Eames.

Chemistry teachers Shane Tucker, Beth Swaney, and Carlie Premo sponsored this event.