Static Electricity

balloon with tinsel clinging to it
Learn about static electricity!

How it works:

What is static electricity?

Static electricity is the uneven distribution of positive and negative charges on an object. Everything is made up of atoms.  Atoms contain protons (positively charged), neutrons (neutrally charged), and electrons (negatively charged). Objects are usually in a neutral state, meaning they have any equal number of positive and negative charges.  Static electricity happens when two objects come together and the weakly held bonds cause the electrons to transfer.  This results in an imbalance in the charge.  It holds the charge until it comes in contact with something else and we see/or feel a spark as the electrons return to their normal balanced state.

For this experiment, the tinsel sticks to the balloon, because their opposites charges attract.  When you rub the balloon on your head it becomes negatively charged as it gains electrons.  When it comes in contact with the more positively charged tinsel it sticks to it.  In addition, your hair sticks up and separates because it is now unbalanced as well and it’s like charges want to repel from each other.

How can you decrease static electricity?

  • Touch metal
  • Humidity ex. Take a shower
  • Wear clothes made out of natural materials
  • Rub a dryer sheet on your clothes
  • Wear shoes with leather soles

Make your own electroscope out of everyday supplies (link). An electroscope measures if an object has an electric charge.

How to do:

Supplies:

  • Balloon

  • Tinsel
  1. Blow up a balloon and rub it on your head.

  2. Using the balloon try to pick up the tinsel.

Book Recommendation

“The Christmas Truck” This book is not related to static electricity, but it is related to Christmas.  The Christmas Truck by J.B. Blankenship is a story about a boy, his Papa, and his dad as they go on an adventure to bring a special Christmas gift to a child in need.

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