A simple cell in action

A simple cell in action

ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Experiment: Changing chemical energy into electrical energy

Aim:  To change chemical energy into electrical energy using a simple cell

Materials: 10 cm magnesium ribbon, strip of copper foil, dilute sulphuric acid/ethanoic acid, ammeter/lamp/torch bulb,connecting leads with crocodile clips, beaker


  1. Set up the apparatus as shown above. The copper foil makes the positive(red) terminal and the magnesium ribbon makes the negative(black) terminal
  2. Roll the 10cm length of magnesium ribbon around a pencil to make a coil
  3. Dip both electrodes into acid to making sure they do not touch each other

Results and Observations

  • Chemical energy is converted into electrical energy which flows through the wires
  • It is then converted into light energy in the bulb or
  • Kinetic energy which moves the arm of the ammeter
  • No current flows if two magnesium ribbons are used
  • The current stops flowing when one of the electrodes is used up
  • Bubbles start to form on the copper plate


  • Simple cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy
  • This energy can be converted into other forms of energy
  • The cell only works if two different metals are used as electrodes

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