Science For Kids: A Study In Static Electricity With Balloons

Science For Kids: A Study In Static Electricity With Balloons

Static Electricity! Makes our hair stand up and gives us a shock but what else can static electricity do?

For our science class we are going to explore the different things static electricity can do with a couple of balloons. What you need for this experiment is just a couple of balloons, a head to rub, and a few different surfaces such as your wall, fridge, and a window. Most balloons will work for this as we have used even water balloons in our experiments. Different types of balloons can be used but taken into account that there are different reactions to different types of balloons. Testing out how the different types of balloons react under the same circumstances can be an experiment all on its own. 🙂

Read more about static electricity here!

or you can watch this very interesting video to learn more about the scientific principle. 🙂

And now on to our experiment with balloons!

Static electricity is an electrical charge build up on an object such as the surface of our balloons. You can find static electricity in all kinds of places you wouldn’t think there would be an electrical charge. It’s a safe and fun electrical charge kids can explore and it’s super easy to find. I can’t tell you how many games of static shock tag we have had will socks on carpet. 🙂 I wanted to take the exploration just a little further with a deliberate scientific examination of the properties of static electricity and what it can do with balloons. For our experiment we used two balloons that were the nearly the same size and same basic brand. We rubbed the balloons on our heads to create a negative charge on the balloon while giving our hair a postivie charge (that is why it stands up!) and stuck them to different surfaces and timed them to see how long they would stick. We recorded the times on the form you can download below.

We timed the balloons on different surfaces around the house to see which surface attracted the statically charged balloon longer. Each surface the kids rubbed the balloons in their hair to transfer all those electrons and give the balloon a negative charge for it to attract to the positively charged surface. We then timed the amount of time the balloon remained attracted to the surface. Some of the different surfaces we used were our wall, windows, the fridge, the couch arm, doors, the tv, and our classroom white board. The white board seemed to work best and we used it to further the experiment. I asked the kids why they thought that the particular surface worked best and why they thought the others didn’t. It was pretty interesting to hear their reasons. 🙂

We furthered our experiment by testing to see what would happen if we placed the balloons closer together on the same surface. We found out that when touched that both balloons lose their static charge and fall to the ground. It was pretty interesting because we found that you could get them closer together without touching and they almost pull to each other as if magnetic. We had a lot of fun testing out our theories on static electricity and I feel we learned a good bit about how it works. 🙂

Click below to download a form to use in your exploration!

More resources about static electricity:

The Kid Should See This – The science of static electricity – TED Ed
Explain That Stuff – Electricity

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