Exploring Static Electricity


Welcome to day three of the spring hopscotch! Have you subscribed by email yet? It only takes a minute, and you’ll make sure you don’t miss a lesson.


10 Days of Electricity and Magnetism


Have you ever seen a small spark fly after you’ve walked across the carpet in your socked feet and touched the doorknob? Have you felt the small {or not so small} jolt? I remember snuggling under the blankets in the middle of winter when I was young, and marveling at the small sparks that made their way from my feet to my belly when my pajamas rubbed against the wool.

These sparks are caused by static electricity. Pajamas and blankets rub together and electrons jump from one fabric to the other.

During thunderstorms, giant sparks of static electricity – lightning – jump from cloud to cloud. The air moves and causes ice and water droplets to rub against each other in the clouds. The clouds become charged with static electricity. Positively charged particles rise to the top of the clouds and the negatively charged particles fall to the bottom of the clouds.

The negatively charged particles are attracted to positively charged particles on the tops of other clouds and on the ground, and jump toward them, causing lightning. Cool, huh? Check it out.


Exploring Static Electricity

I love playing with static electricity {in small doses} because it’s tangible—the kids can actually experience it. With just a few simple materials, you can demonstrate the power of static electricity, too.

You’ll need:

  • a completely dark room or closet
  • a balloon
  • felt, wool, or flannel piece of cloth
  • a piece of metal like a tray or doorway

Try it this way:

  1. Put the piece of metal on a table or stand near a doorknob.
  2. Grab the balloon and fabric, then turn off the lights.
  3. Stand next to the doorknob or metal piece, and rub the balloon quickly with the fabric.
  4. Pass the balloon close to the doorknob or metal.
  5. Watch closely – you should see a small spark of static electricity jump from the balloon to the metal.
  6. You just made lightning!

Play around with different fabrics and materials. Rubbing a balloon against your hair, then pulling it slowly away from your head, will make your hair seem to stand on end. Your charged balloon will also “stick” to some surfaces as the charges try to jump from one to another. Try different things – see if the balloon will stick to the wall or the underside of the table.

Are you ready to try this out yourself? Are you building your own electricity notebook, adding these activities to your science journal, or just like having activities in printable formats? Click on the thumbnail below to download an informational notebooking page and an activity sheet that can be used to turn this static electricity demonstration into an experiment.


Static Electricity Activity from Raising Lifelong Learners


I hope you’re enjoying this series. Let me know how you hope to use the activities with your children, class, or co-op. And, don’t forget to check out some of the other amazing iHomeschool Network bloggers and their 10-Day Series. There are some really fun ones to visit like Teaching with Lego and You Can Be An Artist.


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See you tomorrow when we explore electroscopes.