Monday, June 16, 2014

Easy Science Experiments: Static Electricity

Continuing our super-easy science experiments for kids that you can do this summer, is this experiment on static electricity. This experiment is so simple that I thought Monkey wouldn't be interested at all, and almost didn't try it, but she loved it!

In fact, after we were done doing the official experiment, Monkey continued to test out the process on her own. I consider that a successful project!


Static Electricity Experiment

This experiment shows children the power of static electricity first-hand.

Supplies

  • Comb
  • Toilet paper
  • Other tiny objects (like dirt or tiny sequins)
  • Smooth surface
  • Water (optional)

This project is so simple. First, tear the toilet paper into tiny pieces. The smaller the better! Next, lay them on a smooth surface, like a table.

Rub the comb in your hair to create a static charge. We found it worked best when we "teased" the comb through the hair. Or, if you are used to making static electricity with a balloon, use the same motion that you use to rub the balloon on your head. Monkey loved this part of the experiment.

When the comb is charged, bring it close to the pieces of paper. They will magically jump on the comb.

The Science

When you rub the comb in your hair it creates a static charge by collecting electrons on the comb, which have a negative charge. When you bring the comb near the toilet paper, it sucks the toilet paper to the comb because the negatively charged electrons are trying to become positive again.

Hypothesizing

A science site I visited pointed out that this is a science demonstration, not an experiment, if you don't ask questions and try to come up with a hypothesis. We made our experiment more scientific by asking a few of the following questions:

  • How small do the paper particles have to be before they will jump to the comb? 
  • Do other particles become attracted to the comb? 
  • Does the material of the comb matter? 
  • How long will the static charge hold? 
  • What happens to the paper when the charge is gone? 

Here is a fun printable you can use to save in a science notebook.
Print this in 5x7 or 4x6 size.

Static Electricity Experiment Variation

You can also do this experiment with water. Repeat the same steps, but instead of using paper particles, turn the sink on to a slow trickle. Then hold the charged comb right next to the water. The stream should move to try and touch the comb.

More Summer Science Fun

How Clouds Work and Rain Falls

2 comments:

  1. Love this! I was just blogging today about how I hate things that say they're easy, but actually aren't! This is perfect, we'll definitely have to try it! :)

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  2. I know! Some say they are easy but then require like 6 special ingredients you have to order online. If they aren't actually easy, you know we won't be doing them! :-)

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