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Static Electricity,The New Flair: Blonde, Redhead or Brunette?

based on 30 ratings
Author: Muriel Gerhard
Type

Physics

Grade

Middle School

Difficulty of Project

Easy

Cost

$ 2 or less

Safety Issues

None

Material Availability

Most of the materials are readily available at home. Balloons may be purchased at stores such as Wal-Mart, Kmart or local toy stores.

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

One week.  This includes collection, recording and analysis of data, summary of results and completion of bibliography.

Objectives

To determine whether the color of your hair affects how much static electricity it carries.

Materials and Equipment Required

  • 10 hard rubber combs
  • 6 balloons, of same size and color
  • watch with a second hand.

Introduction

Background Information

The student will become acquainted with some of the basic static electricity concepts, such the atom and its parts: the nucleus, neutrons, protons, and electrons.  Basic concepts include:

  1. Everything is made-up of atom.
  2. The atom may be viewed in part as a solar system with orbiting electrons.
  3. The components of the atom vary in their charges or lack of charges.
  4. Electrons have a negative charge, the protons, a positive charge and the neutrons carry no charge.
  5. Electrons move.
  6. Some materials hold tightly to their electrons, others loosely.
  7. When an excess of electrons build up on an object, it is described as static electricity.
  8. Static electricity can suddenly discharge, like when a bolt of lightning flashes through the sky.
  9. Other times, static electricity can cause objects to cling to each other, like socks fresh out of the dryer.
  10. The static is an attraction between two objects with different charges, positive (+) and negative.
  11. Static electricity can be created by rubbing one object against another. The result is the movement of electron from one subsysnce to another building up a charge, a charge waiting to be released
  12. Scientists have ranked materials in order of their ability to hold or give up electrons.  This ranking is called the Turboelectric series.
  13. In this series, we find that if two materials are rubbed together, the one higher on the list will give up electrons and therefore become positively charged.
  14. Hair is third on the list. When you rub a balloon on your head the friction causes opposite static charges to build up in your hair and in the balloon. You can see these two opposite static charges attracting each other when you pull the balloon slowly away from your head making your hair stand up.

This science fair experiment also serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of scientific inquiry such as using a control, identifying dependent and independent variables, data collection, pictorial and graphic presentation of data, and of making accurate judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings.

Research Terms

  • atom
  • nucleus
  • electron
  • proton
  • law of attraction
  • static electricity
  • current electricity
  • static charge
  • static shock
  • Triboelectric Series
  • Law of Conservation of Charge

Research Questions

  • What are the components of any atom?
  • Do atoms have charges?
  • What is static electricity?
  • How does static electricity build up?
  • How is it released?
  • What are the dangers when it is released.
  • How does static electricity differ from current electricity?
  • What is the Turboelectric Series? How is it used?
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