Science Fair Project:

Controlling Static Electricity

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Research Questions:

  • Does everyone experience static electricity?
  • Can static shocks be prevented?
  • What causes static electricity?
  • Which method of preventing shocks works best?
  • Do clothing, shoes, or dry air play a part in the static effect, or perhaps a combination of all three?

This project is best undertaken during the fall/winter months.

Materials:

  • Hand Cream
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Static Guard Spray
  • A small handful of change
  • Sneakers
  • Sweat Shirt
  • Polyester Shirt
  • Socks
  • Sweater
  • Leather-Style Shoes
  • T-Shirt
  • Flip Flops

Experimental Procedure

  1. Ask for four volunteers the day before your experiment.
  2. Ask the first volunteer to wear a sweatshirt and a pair of sneakers.
  3. Ask the second volunteer to wear a polyester shirt and take off his/her shoes.
  4. Ask the third volunteer to wear a sweater and leather-style shoes.
  5. Ask the forth voluteer to wear a t-shirt and a pair of flip flops.
  6. One at a time, ask each volunteer to scuff his/her feet across a bare floor and then touch something metal like a doorknob or to touch another person. Record what happens.
  7. Now, ask each volunteer to scuff his/her feet across a carpeted floor and then touch something metal like a doorknob or to touch another person. Record what happens.
  8. Now ask the volunteer wearing the sneakers and a sweatshirt to place a dryer sheet into each shoe.
  9. Ask the volunteer wearing the polyester shirt and socks to apply hand cream to his/her hands.
  10. Ask the third volunteer wearing the sweater and the leather-style shoes to apply static guard to him/herself. (Be cautious - do not spray this near face or eyes).
  11. Ask the forth volunteer wearing the t-shirt and flip flops to put a handful of change into his/her pocket.
  12. Ask the first three volunteers one at a time to repeat steps 6 and 7.
  13. Ask the fourth volunteer to repeat steps 6 and 7, but ask him/her to put his/her hand into his/her pocket and touch the change just before touching the metal surface or another person.
  14. Record all observations, answering the Research Questions.

Terms/Concepts: Static, Metal, Humidity, Moisture, Dry Air, Conductive, Non-Conductive, Positive charge, Negative Charge, Atoms

References:

Static Shock and How to Avoid Them, http://www.static-sol.com/articles/static_shocks.htm.

"Static Electricity; Static elimination and control," Science Made Simple, http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/eliminatestaticelectricity.html.

School for Champions, by Ron Kurtus, http://school-for-champions.com/science/static_materials.htm.

Materials That Cause Static Electricity, http://jh399.k12.sd.us/DailyAssign/Physics/ch7materialstaticelec.pdf.

Humans and sparks: The cause, Stopping the pain and “Electric People,” by William J. Beaty (1997) http://www.electricitycentral.com/articles/staticsparks.htm.

Author: Kathy Phillips
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