My 11 year old son is really into doing science experiments right now. Maybe he inherited my former science teacher father’s love of science.
Anyway, we recently did two science experiments to learn more about static electricity.
Both experiments are very simple and require items you probably already have in your home.
What is static electricity?
It is electricity in the form of charged particles that are either positive or negative. The charge stays in an object and does not flow like in an electric current.
- Plastic Comb
- Piece of 100% Wool (Sweater, etc.)
- Tissue Paper (1st Experiment)
- Running Water (2nd Experiment)
Instructions for Experiment 1
1. The first thing you will need to do is tear the tissue paper into small/tiny pieces. You don’t need very many, 10-15 little pieces should be plenty.
2. Rub the comb vigorously with a piece of wool (Ours was a scrap from a 100% wool sweater.).
Rubbing the wool and comb together creates static electricity.
3. Hold the comb close to the pieces of tissue paper and watch as they literally jump up to the comb.
The paper is attracted to the static electricity because the comb has a negative charge and the paper has a positive charge. This is an example of the old saying “opposites attract”.
This was a fun experiment that all of my boys had to try out.
Instructions for Experiment 2
1. Turn on a faucet so that a steady, thin stream of water is flowing out.
2. Just like in the first experiment, rub the comb vigorously with a piece of 100% wool.
3. Hold the comb close to the water and watch the water bend towards the comb.
Please excuse my dirty sink. When you are a kid dying to do a science experiment you sometimes just can’t wait for the sink to be photo ready.
This was pretty cool so we decided to try it a couple of times and video tape it so you can see how it works.
Note: If you are reading this post via email or in a reader you will need to click over to the site to see this video.
If you want to impress your kids with some science magic, my son definitely recommends that you try these two experiments.
Another static electricity experiment to try is the old rubbing a balloon on your head and sticking it to the ceiling trick.
It is another example of positive and negative charges attracting.
Have you ever done an experiment like this with your kids?