The students learned that static electricity is the build-up of an electrical charge on the surface of an object. You have experienced static electricity if you’ve ever had your hair stand up while you’re on a trampoline, if you’ve got a shock off a car door handle, or if you’ve seen a lightning strike. Then everyone did some cool experiments to learn more about it.
In the first experiment the students blew up balloons and built up a static charge by rubbing them on their hair, polar fleeces, or the floor. The students found that they could get the balloon to stick to things like their hands, clothes, and the wall. When the balloon was out near their heads, it even made the hair stand on end. Some of the students also had a go at picking up light objects such as tissue paper.
Next, the class did some research and found out that the balloon attracted some objects like our hair and the tissue paper because the balloon contained a negative charge and the other objects contained a positive charge – opposites attract.
I think the balloon picks up the paper because of how light it is and because the negative and positive charges are attracting.
By rubbing the balloon, it suddenly connected to my hair.
When I was rubbing the balloon with my hand, it stuck to my hand and rolled down my arm.
The balloon is sticking to my hair because it’s magic!
I’m pretty sure that the bigger the balloon is, the bigger the charge.
Some students discovered that if they put a small piece of tissue paper on their charged balloon, then tried to touch it, the tissue paper moved away from their finger. Lots of others tried and exactly the same thing happened. This made us all wonder why the tissue paper was attracted to the balloon and was moving away from our finger.
Danika moves a piece of tissue paper over her charged balloon.
During the next session with Mrs Young room 4 tried a new experiment. They blew up a balloon and then took a small piece of plastic cut from a plastic bag. The students wondered what would happen if they rubbed both the balloon and the plastic bag on their hair and then tried to put them together. They found that the piece of plastic moved away from the balloon. Some of the students even got it to float above the balloon for a little while.
Danielle watches the plastic try to move away from her balloon.
When room 4 talked about it everyone agreed that this happened because both the balloon and the plastic contained the same charge. Opposite charges attract and two negatives repel each other.
The plastic is floating because both charges are negative, so they move away.
The plastic moves away because there are either two negatives or two positives.
Following are links to the experiments we tried. Have a go!
Keywords: Phunky Physics, static electricity, experiential learning