Whether it is home or business electricity it is powers most things we use in the modern world. These experiments explain how electricity is all around us and teach kids the basic principles of static electricity.
Charging a Fluorescent Light Bulb
Objective: This project demonstrates how our bodies contain electricity and how friction creates static electricity.
Materials Needed: A comb, a woollen scarf or sweater, a dark room, and a Fluorescent light bulb.
Experiment: Enter a dark room with the material for the experiment. Have one of the students run the comb through his hair about 20 times. Also, the comb could be rubbed back and forth on the woollen sweater or scarf to achieve the same effect. The friction from rubbing the comb through hair or on the scarf will cause electrons to travel to the comb. The friction causes the students body to become positively charged and the comb to become negatively charged. Now place the comb on the metal end of the fluorescent light bulb and watch it flicker in the dark room. As the electrons travel from the comb into the metal end of the bulb, the bulb will begin to flicker as it uses the electricity. This experiment can be used to teach the kids about positive and negative electrons and static electricity.
Using the Force
Objective: This project demonstrates how water is drawn toward electricity.
Materials Needed: A Plastic Comb, A woollen jumper or sweater, and running tap water
Experiment: Positively charge the comb by running it through a student’s hair or back and forth on a jumper or woollen sweater. Once the comb has a positive charge through static electricity, turn on the tap water so that there is a small steady stream. Now take the comb and slowly move it toward the stream of tap water being careful not to let it touch the water. When the comb begins to get close to the stream of water, the students will observe that the water will begin to bend toward the positively charged comb. This experiment can be used to show the students that water conducts electricity, and that electricity is drawn toward the water. This is an excellent experiment to use to teach kids to be safe around water and electricity.
Dancing Tissue Paper
Objective: This project demonstrates the pull of static electricity.
Material Needed: Small pane of glass (about 5×10 inches), plastic zipper lock bag, two large books, small bits of paper (hole punched paper works great), foam egg carton material, metal pie pan, scissors, notebook paper
Experiment: Place the two books several inches apart on a table. Sprinkle the small bits of torn up paper between the two books and then carefully place the piece of glass on top. The pieces of paper should be visible under the glass between the two books. Begin the experiment by rubbing the plastic bag slowly back and forth across the glass. As the static electric charge begins to build between the glass and the plastic bad, the pieces of paper will begin to react. Ask the students what would happen if you rubbed the glass faster or slower. Demonstrate these changes and see if the students were able to successfully predict what would happen. This experiment can also be done by rubbing a balloon rapidly back and forth across the glass. Have the students record their observations in a science journal.
Objective: This experiment will show how two objects with the same electrical charge will resist each other.
Materials Needed: Two balloons, string, tape, woollen sweater or scarf, scissors, and a door frame
Experiment: Cut two equal lengths of string and hang them from the door frame. Blow up the balloons and hang them both together from the pieces of string. Make sure that the balloons are hanging evenly and slightly resting against each other. Take the balloons one at a time and rub them against the woollen sweater or scarf. Once both of the balloons are charged, gently let them hang from the strings against one another. Observe what happens when both negatively charged balloons are left to rest against each other. Because both of the balloons carry the same charge, they will resist each other and push out against the string.