Science for Families: Activities to support the ‘Static’ session
Science for Families
This resource is designed to accompany the Science for Families course delivered by Think Physics or one of our partners. It’s a six-week parent and child course delivered in primary schools.
You’re welcome to use the resources for other purposes, but they might not make quite as much sense!
How many things did you manage to move with your charged balloon? Are you reading this with your hair all sticking up? Or with a balloon attached to your forehead?
Static electricity isn’t just for balloons though, with enough of it you can really watch the sparks fly. Literally. If enough static charge builds up, then you can get a small shock. You might have got one from a metal door handle or stair rail. Of course sometimes there is so much static charge in the air that we can get a bolt of lightning. This is caused by the static building up in the clouds – like it did on your balloon, but on a much grander scale.
The static flyer
This is where static charge gets really fun. Objects which are charged oppositely, one positive and one negative, will attract each other, like the balloon attracted your hair. However, two objects which have the same charge will repel each other. That means they push each other away.
We can use this to get lightweight objects to fly. Check out the video to see how to do it, then get experimenting!