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  • Writer's pictureEllie

Static Electricity Day

You know the feeling: you walk across the carpet, touch a metal doorknob, and zing!  You shock your fingers, all thanks to static electricity! Today, January 9th, is National Static Electricity Day and we would love to celebrate this electrifying day with you!

Whether we are aware of it or not, static electricity is all around us everyday. When you wake up and your hair sticks straight up, or when your pants cling to your legs, that is static electricity.

So what causes static electricity? It is the build-up of an electrical charge on the surface of an object. This build-up occurs when a charge stays in one area of the object for some time and doesn't flow or move to a different area.

There are many ways that you and your little scientist can experiment with static electricity, and in honor of Static Electricity Day we have put together some electrifying experiments that are both fun and informative!

Balloon Experiments

We have three experiments that you and your child can do with only a balloon!

Hair Standing on End

Our first one is a classic, and it's one of the best ways to observe static electricity in action: the hair standing on end experiment. Everyone has done this at least one point in their life, even if just for fun! First rub the balloon on your shirt or a towel. Then hold it short distance from your head see what happens. You’ll be experiencing those electrons moving from your hair to the balloon! 

Positive Charges

For the next experiment you will need a balloon, plastic pen, and small scraps of paper. First rub the balloon on your hair or a sweater, and then try sticking it to the wall and see what happens! Will the positive charge of the balloon attract electrons from the wall making the balloon stick? Or will it fall? Challenge your young learner by asking them to guess what will happen!

Next take a pen, rub it on a wool sweater and hold it near a stream of water. What happens? Then rub the pen the sweater again and try to pick up the small pieces of paper with the pen. In both of these experiments you are manually moving the electrons from one material to another. The same thing happened with the pen, paper, and water as it does with the balloon and wall. 

Levitating Objects

For this experiment see the magic of levitating objects by using a balloon to make them fly! For this experiment you will need a cotton towel, a plastic bag, scissors, and a balloon. First cut a small ring in the plastic bag. Then take the balloon and rub the cotton towel over the surface for 30 to 45 seconds. Afterwards rub the towel on the plastic bag, hold the plastic bag about 1 foot over a balloon, and release! You and your child can have fun watching static electricity create magical levitating objects.

Separate Salt and Pepper

For this next experiment you will need 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, a plastic spoon, and a dish cloth. First start by asking your children if there’s a way to separate salt and pepper. Ask them if they thing there is a way to separate the salt and pepper without using their hands!

Then mix the 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper together on a flat surface. Rub the plastic spoon on a dish cloth for about 10 seconds. Hold the spoon over the salt and pepper mix and watch their eyes grow wide as the little particles jump up to the spoon! 

Do you know any fun static electricity experiments? Let us know in the comments!

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