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What is Static Electricity?
Objective: Compare static and current electricity.
A static charge is a negative charge that stays on the surface of an item. It occurs because electrons attached to the surface of the object. The negatively charged object then attracts other objects.
This MatchCard compares static and current electricity. You may want to review the Electrical Circuit MatchCard
(MatchCard #9) in order to compare static and current electricity.
MatchCard: Download below.
Print the Static Electricity MatchCard
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This is MatchCard #10 of the Light and Energy Unit Study. Find more information on MatchCard Science below.
Get a Charge
First we want to charge the surface of an object. Here are some common objects used for these demonstrations:
- inflated balloon (latex)
- plastic comb
- glass rod
How do we charge these objects? You will need to rub the object against an object that is usually already charged. Here are common objects:
- long human hair
- wool sweater
- many carpets and rugs (some synthetic materials do not work as well)
- silk cloth
Here are some fun ways to demonstrate static electricity:
- Have a charged balloon stick to a wall. Count how long it sticks. How hard do you have to blow to move it?
- Turn on the tap water so a small but steady stream of water is coming from the faucet. Move the charged object (like the comb or rod) to the stream. The electrical charge causes the water to bend towards the object.
- Scatter small pieces of tissue paper on a table. Run the balloon, comb, or rod over it. The papers will jump up to stick to the object.
- Hold the object several inches above someone's hair. The hair stands straight up.
- Tie a 12 inch piece of thread or toothfloss to an O shaped piece of breakfast cereal. Move the object towards it. the cereal will be attracted. Continue moving it towards and away from the cereal. Once the cereal becomes charged, it will move away from the object because like charges repel.
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper into a little pile. Ask the student how they might separate them. Slowly, move the balloon or rod over the pile. The lightweight pepper will be attracted to the charged object.
- Blow bubbles in the air using a bubble solution or dish soap. Use the charged comb or rod to attract the bubble. Have a contest to see who can keep the bubble floating the longest as it follows the comb.