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Fun and Informative Experiments on Static Electricity for Kids

Static Electricity Experiments for Kids
Science experiments are a part of the numerous school projects that are assigned to kids. Out of these, static electricity experiments happen to be all time favorites with students as well as teachers. Here are some interesting experiments to teach your kids about static electricity.
ScienceStruck Staff
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
Electric Hair
Science projects and experiments can be boring for kids if they do not include a little fun in them. Parents and teachers are usually on the constant lookout for interesting books on science to make scientific concepts easy for their kids to grasp. Fortunately, the concept of static electricity is simple, and the experiments even simpler. Moreover, they can easily be performed at home as well as in schools by the kids themselves. I have listed below five fun-filled experiments.
Experiments for Children
Here are some easy experiments that can be performed by parents, teachers, as well as kids. You might need to warn your children that they are likely to experience a slight tingling shock or 'zapping' during such experiments.
A balloon and a woolen jacket
A balloon and a woolen jacket
You Need: A balloon and a woolen jacket

Procedure: Well, this happens to be the easiest of all experiments.
  1. You can start by blowing air into a balloon. Tie a knot at the end of the balloon.
  2. Now start rubbing it gently against your woolen jacket.
  3. After rubbing it for at least 30 seconds, stand in front of a mirror and hold the balloon above your head.
Observation: You will notice your hair standing up in the direction of the balloon.
Plastic comb, woolen jacket, tiny bits of torn paper
Woolen jacket and torn paper
You Need: A ball-point pen or a plastic comb, woolen jacket, tiny bits of torn paper

Procedure:
  1. You might start by taking a piece of used paper and tearing it into tiny bits. Put the pieces on the floor.
  2. Take a plastic comb and run it through your hair 5 to 6 times. Alternately, use a plastic ball-point pen and rub it vigorously against your woolen jacket.
  3. Once done, the comb or the pen becomes charged with static electricity. Immediately hold the comb or pen above the bits of paper.
Observation: You will see that the bits of paper get instantly attracted to the comb or pen.
A clean plastic comb and a kitchen sink faucet.
Plastic comb and a kitchen sink faucet
You Need: A clean plastic comb and a kitchen sink faucet.

Procedure: This experiment may be performed by standing near your kitchen sink.
  1. Turn on the faucet and let the water flow consistently at its minimum force.
  2. Take a plastic comb and run it through your hair 5 to 6 times. Immediately hold the comb close to the water, but take care to ensure that the comb does not get wet.
Observation: You will notice that the static electricity stored in the comb attracts the water and as a result, the water-flow bends slightly towards the comb.
Two equal sized threads, two balloons, one comb, adhesive tape
Balloon and comb
You Need: Two equal sized threads, two balloons, one comb, adhesive tape

Procedure:
  1. Start by blowing the balloons so that they look similar in size. Make a knot at their ends to prevent the balloons from deflating.
  2. Take two long threads of equal length. Tie one of their ends to the balloons.
  3. Use an adhesive tape to stick the loose ends of the thread to the surface of a table. The balloons should be placed in such a way that both are parallel to each other. The balloons should neither touch the floor nor should they stick to one another.
  4. Now use a plastic comb and run it through your hair at least 5 to 6 times. At this point, the comb becomes charged with static electricity, while the balloons have no charge at all.
  5. Gently touch the comb to one of the balloons and you will notice that both the balloons get attracted to one another instantly.
  6. Now charge the comb once more by running it through your hair. This time touch the comb to both the balloons and you will notice that they repel each other.
Observation: This experiment is a classic example of physics principle which states, 'Opposite forces attract and like forces repel'. In the first case, the two balloons attract, because one of the balloons is positively charged while the other has no charge at all. In the second case, the two balloons repel because both have been positively charged.
A fluorescent light bulb, a plastic comb, a woolen jacket.
Light bulb jacket collage
You Need: A fluorescent light bulb, a plastic comb, a woolen jacket.

Procedure:
  1. This experiment needs to be conducted within a darkened room.
  2. Start the experiment by rubbing the plastic comb vigorously against the woolen jacket. This experiment requires a little extra static electricity, so you might need to rub the comb vigorously for one whole minute.
  3. Now, hold the light bulb in your free hand and gently touch the comb to the metallic base of the bulb.
Observation: As the static electricity transfers to the bulb, you will get to see sparks igniting within the bulb.
Causes of Static Electricity
Helium atom
The above experiments are sure to be interesting while performing them. By now, you're probably wondering how the bulb sparkled, the water stream bent, or the bits of paper got attracted to the plastic comb. No, this is not magic but simple science. Take just about any element in nature. Each element is made of tiny atoms. An atom itself is made of three parts; protons, electrons, and neutrons. Now, protons carry a positive charge, while electrons carry a negative charge. Neutrons have no charge at all. Whenever, you rub a comb on a rough surface like your hair or woolen jacket, the resulting friction makes the comb statically charged. As you touch the bits of paper or balloon with the comb, the negatively charged electrons from the comb shift to the other objects, thereby attracting them towards the comb. These experiments prove that objects with opposite charges attract each other while those with similar charges (two negatives or two positives) repel.
There you go! Wasn't that easy and exciting? I enjoyed performing static electricity experiments on my own when I was a kid. However, I caution adults to be present for guidance and to ensure safety, in case the children are performing these experiments on their own. Encourage your child to prepare a scrapbook detailing the procedure and conclusions of these experiments for their future reference.
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