“It’s only about the size of a nickel, right? I mean, how harmful can it be?”
As it turns out, despite their small size, button-cell batteries (otherwise known as coin batteries) can be more harmful than most people realize. Young children, who may accidentally ingest one of these batteries, are especially susceptible to serious injuries to internal organs.
Our friends and colleagues at UL recently published an Inside UL article on the safety challenges created by these types of batteries. We encourage you to read the article and learn how the lessons created for the Xplorlabs’ Portable Electrical Power module are relevant in the real world, where we need young minds to be alert and make safety their highest priority.
In 2017, we talked to hundreds of teachers from around the country and explained how and why Portable Electrical Power continues to be such a relevant topic for young scientists. We showed them a hoverboard and talked to them about the pack of batteries housed within the device. On a lesser, scale, however, we also discussed how students could witness a large safety risk in something as small as a coin-sized battery.
How did we do it? Well, it was simple: we used the Bologna Test. This experiment only requires a slice of bologna (the sandwich meat), a button-cell battery, saline solution, and a clean/safe surface on which to place the items. In this demonstration, the bologna represents the lining of the esophagus while the saline solution acts as saliva. We could tell you what happens in the experiment, but we encourage you to try it with your students*.
For this reason, among many others, we are so passionate about educating our future safety scientists so that they can understand the importance and relevance of safety when it comes to all types of batteries.
(*NOTE: this test, as well as any and every experiment listed on the UL Xplorlabs website, should only be done by children/students who are supervised by a parent, educator, or responsible adult.)