Static electricity is awesome. I’m just going to say it. Playing and experimenting with static electricity provides children with some of their earliest hands-on physics lessons.
You can see static electricity in action when a child goes down a plastic slide at the park only to arrive at the bottom with crazy hair that is sticking straight up and all over. You can feel static electricity when you rub your feet on carpet and then touch a metal doorknob. Today we are going to harness the power of static electricity in a fun activity for Valentine’s Day. Get your balloons and your crazy hair ready!
Total Time: About 5 minutes
Safety Concerns: None.
Materials You Need:
An inflated balloon
Wool, flannel, or fleece fabric (A head of hair also works perfectly!)
- Draw a cupid on a piece of tissue paper. You can either do this freehand or trace a cupid onto the tissue paper like I did! (I’m no artist.)
- Cut out the tissue paper cupid and put it on a flat surface.
- Rub the balloon on the fabric or hair for about 10 seconds.
- Hold the balloon a few inches over the tissue paper cupid and see what happens. If the balloon has acquired a good static charge, the cupid should jump right up and stick to the balloon!
- Have fun making your cupid fly!
So what is going on with the balloon? Why does rubbing a balloon on your head make your hair go crazy and then attract tissue paper to it?
Simply put, when the balloon is rubbed against fabric or hair, electrons are transferred to the balloon, giving it an overall negative charge. This negative charge attracts the tissue paper cupids, making them stick!
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