The Power of Static Electricity
5th - 6th grade
Difficulty of Project
$5 per student
Easy; materials can be easily obtained
Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project (Including analysis and write-up)
What is the project about?
The static electricity project will allow students to test the concepts of positive and negative charges by using various objects. Students will see first-hand the power of static electricity.
What are the goals?
The goal of the static electricity project is for students to put their knowledge of protons, neutrons and electrons into use by observing various electrical charges. Students should be able to identify if an object is an insulator or a conductor.
Materials and Equipment / Ingredients
What materials are required?
- Balloon (2 per student)
- String (2 feet per student)
- Hair (hair does not need to be cut - any student with hair is fine)
- Aluminium can (1 per student)
- Wool fabric (small piece per student)
Where can the materials be found?
- What type of charge does a proton have?
- What type of charge does a electron have?
- What type of charge does a neutron have?
- What is static electricity?
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
For the parent/student, what terms and concepts are required to better understand the project?
The concept of positive and negative charges is essential for this experiment. Also, the concepts of attraction and repulsion are very important.
This experiment has 3 parts. Each part should be conducted separately, then all results should be compared for a final analysis.
Part 1 - Wool Fabric
- Begin by blowing up the balloons. Tie the ends of the balloons into knots, and then tie one piece of string onto the end of each balloon (about 6 inches of string per balloon is enough).
- Rub the first balloon against the wool fabric, then rub the second balloon against the same wool fabric. 4 or 5 strokes against the wool fabric will suffice. Handle the balloons via the attached string - do not touch the actual plastic of the balloon.
- Hold the balloons close together and observe/record their behavior. (Do the balloons cling together? Are they attracted to each other?)
Part 2 - Hair
- With the same inflated balloons used in part 1, begin by rubbing one of the balloons back and forth on your hair (or someone's hair).
- Slowly pull the balloon away and observe/record the behavior of the hair. (Does your hair react in any way?)
Part 3 - Aluminium Can
- Begin by placing the aluminium can on its side on a flat surface (table, floor, etc.).
- Using the same inflated balloons used in parts 1 and 2, rub one of the balloons back and forth on your hair (or someone's hair).
- After rubbing the balloon on hair, hold the balloon approximately 1 inch away from the aluminium can and move the balloon slowly away from the can.
- Observe/record the can's behavior.
Bibliography / References to related books / Links to related sites on the web
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.