Build a Spud Light
For An Americanism
Snack: Make an all-American parfait
with a clear glass or plastic cup, and these ingredients, in order:
Bottom: cubes of angel-food cake,
pressed down gently
Top with a layer of whipped cream
One-inch layer of fresh
strawberries, cut in quarters with tops discarded
Top with another layer of whipped
One-inch layer of fresh blueberries
Top with one more layer of whipped
Press one quartered strawberry into
the whipped cream at the top
need to eat these with a spoon. Serve with a big glass of all-American milk.
For each student taking part in the quiz,
visit the hardware store and the grocery store:
1 small flashlight bulb
One small bulb holder
Two electrical lead wires with alligator
A knife and an adult's help with cutting
One galvanized nail
First, build your "spud light" to help you light up when you know
the answer to a quiz question.
How does a potato light work? A potato contains phosphoric (foss-FOR-ick)
acid, which can be used as an electrolyte (ee-LECK-tro-lite). That turns the
potato into a battery with stored energy.
To access a little of that energy, you have to provide two
electrodes (ee-LECK-trodes) - the penny and the galvanized nail. You connect
them with wiring and a lightbulb.
The phosphoric acid in the potato starts a chemical reaction
between the copper in the penny and the iron in the nail. Electrons flow down
the wires, creating a current that lights the bulb.
To build yours, screw the flashlight bulb into the bulb holder.
Attach one end of one electrical lead wire to one terminal on the
bulb holder. Then attach the other lead wire to the other terminal.
Using the knife, with an adult's help, cut two small slits in the
potato, at least one inch apart. Insert the penny into one slit and the nail
into the other.
Attach one of the alligator clips on the end of one of the lead
wires to the nail. Then attach the other alligator clip that's attached to the
other lead wire to the penny.
Watch the lightbulb! It should light up.
For the quiz, line up every student's light in a row about 12
inches from the edge of the table. You can mark the line with masking tape to
keep it fair.
Each student should have one of their alligator clips attached to
the nail or penny, and hold the other free alligator clip off the edge of the
table, so that it's at least 12" from the potato light.
Now when you ask a question, each student can reach forward and
connect the alligator clip to the penny or nail, lighting their light, when
they know the answer. The first one to light up gets to answer the question. If
they get it right, give them one point. If they get it wrong, subtract one
These are 100 civics questions that every American student should
know. The moderator can print out these questions, with the answers right
below, and quiz students and keep score.
You can make the quiz long or short, depending on how much time
You can use your potato light for a number of other games and
activities, and when the potato goes bad, you can always use a new potato!
Here are the civics questions for
your quiz bowl: