We have a new Static Electricity science experiment for you today. Static electricity is something we’ve all experienced, and while it is such a fun thing to play with, it is also a great way to introduce children to the concept of electrical charges and how they travel and ground.
Static electricity differs from current electricity, because rather than traveling through wires to provide power, the static charge is imbalanced and confined inside or on the surface of an object. The static charge is caused when two items rub against each other and transfer electrons between them unequally. One object can end up with a positive charge or polarity while the other has an equally negative charge. When positively and negatively charged objects are close to each other, the forces attract each other. This force is stronger the closer the two objects are, and it does not dissipate until the charge is balance between two items or grounded in some way. “Static Electricity” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., date last updated (26 December 2015). Web. Date accessed (02 March 2016).
For this experiment, we decided to use a static electricity favorite, the balloon, and a bit of toilet paper. We wanted to see if we could make the toilet paper fly up, and guess what? We did. The experiment is incredibly easy to set up. Blow up a balloon, and shred a square or two of toilet paper. We used Costco toilet paper, and worked beautifully.
Then rub the balloon against your head to build up a negative charge in the balloon. Glide it an inch or two above the toilet paper pieces and watch the magic. It really is so much fun to try. The little white flakes fly up and attach themselves to the balloon. They end up connecting to each other too as the charge runs through them and you can create a hanging train of pieces. Eventually the charge balances out, and the pieces fall. Just take the balloon back to your head to recharge it, and go again.
It might be fun to experiment with what other things are attracted to a statically charge balloon. Go through the house and check it out. Just try not to touch any electrical outlets or switches, or you’ll feel the quick transfer of charge in a little zap.
We hope you enjoy this fun science activity. Comment to let us know if you try this experiment, and what things worked for you. We’d love to hear about it.