Grade Level: 4th – 6th; Type: Physics
This science project demonstrates how static electricity can cause an object to move. It also examines just how an object affected by static electricity will move.
How does static electricity make an object move?
You know that static electricity can make your hair move toward the electrically charged object, but what type of effect will static electricity have on a metal object? The answer may surprise you.
- Two plastic food trays
- Two empty tin cans
- Paper clip
- Plastic ruler
- Set out two plastic food trays, about an inch apart from each other.
- Place one empty tin can on the center of each of the trays.
- Cut a piece of thread so that its length is twice the distance between the edges of the two cans.
- Tie one end of the thread to a paper clip.
- Tie the other end of the thread to the center of a plastic ruler. There should still be enough thread slack between the ruler and the paper clip for the clip to reach half the distance between the two cans.
- Lay the ruler across the two cans.
- Rub the balloon on your hair and hold it near one of the cans. The static electricity from the balloon causes the paper clip to be alternately attracted to and repelled from the can. It will therefore hit the two cans like a bell.
Terms/Concepts: Static electricity; Attraction and repulsion
Fascinating Science Projects: Electricity and Magnetism, by Bobbi Searle. Pp. 24-25.