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The Power of Static Electricity

Suggested Grades

3+

Objective

Students will examine and better understand the power of static electricity by using an electrically charged comb to attract things.

Materials

  • plastic combs (enough for every student)
  • tiny pieces of paper (You can finally empty out your hole puncher!)
  • ping pong balls
  • running tap water

Method

Works best on a dry day.

  • Set up three different stations.
    • Paper Station: Here have tiny pieces of paper spread out on a table.
    • Ping Pong Station: Here have a few ping pong balls laid out on a table.
    • Water Station: Here have a cold water tap turned on with a thin stream of water coming from it.
  • Ask students to make and record predictions of what they think might happen if they run a comb through their hair and they hold the comb next to each of the objects provided.
  • Split class up into three groups, have each group visit each station for about ten minutes. When student arrives at a new station, have them run the comb through their hair a few times and quickly hold the comb close to the object provided at the centre. Have students make recordings of what happened.
  • When finished with all the stations, have a class discusion on what happened and the reasons that may be behind it all.
  • (Running the comb through your hair electrically charges the comb. Anything that is oppositely or neutrally charged will be attracted to the comb. Objects that have the same charge will repel.)

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