Grade 7 – Static Electricity

Available in: https://iswitch.com.sg/fun-static-electricity-home-experiments/

1.Flying Plastic Bag

flying plastic bag

Remember how the Harry Potter cast levitated their feathers using the ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ charm? Now you can too with the power of static electricity!

What you will need:

  • a plastic rod (or a pen, or a comb)
  • a piece of cloth
  • a light plastic bag

Steps:

  • Rub the surface of the rod with the cloth for 40 seconds
  • Flatten the plastic bag and rub the cloth against its surface for 40 seconds
  • Release the plastic bag and watch it levitate as you wave the rod below

How it works: (Hint: It’s not magic!)

The rod and cloth gain become negatively charged after you rub them with a cloth. As like charges repel, the plastic bag appears to repel.


2. Roll A Can With Static electricity

roll a can

With static electricity, you can even make a can roll around without actually touching it!

What you will need:

  • an empty light can
  • a plastic rod (or a pen, or a comb)
  • a piece of cloth

Steps:

  • Rub the surface of the rod with the cloth for 40 seconds
  • Place the can on a flat and smooth surface
  • Hold the cloth close to the can without touching it and watch as it follows the movement of the rod!

How it works:

Rubbing the rod with the cloth creates static electricity. The rod, which has gained electrons, becomes negatively charges. Hence the can, which is positively charged, is attracted to it as opposites attract.


3.Hair Standing With Static Electricity

standing hair

Have you ever gotten frizzy, fly-away hair during a plane ride? Well, you can now create the same effect with a balloon!

What you will need:

  • an inflated balloon
  • a piece of cloth

Steps:

  • Rub the surface of the balloon with the cloth for 40 seconds
  • Hold the balloon a short distance above your head and watch your hair stick to it!

How it works:

The balloon gains electrons from the cloth and becomes negatively-charged, so it attracts your hair, which is positively-charged in comparison.


4.Separating Salt and Pepper

separating salt and papper

If salt and pepper chips don’t suit your fancy, why not run a static electricity experiment to separate those seasonings!

What you will need:

  • a plastic spoon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • a piece of cloth

Steps:

  • Mix a teaspoon each of salt and pepper thoroughly
  • Rub the spoon with the cloth for 40 seconds
  • Hold the spoon over the mixture. The pepper will jump up and stick to the spoon (if you hold the spoon over the right spots)

How it works:

Both the salt and pepper granules are positively charged. The spoon, which has gained electrons from the cloth, attracts positive charges in the mixture. But the pepper, which is lighter, will jump up more easily and stick to the spoon.


5.Waterbending With The Power Of Static Electricity

water bending

In the movie ‘The Last Airbender’, The Water Tribe who learned water-bending by observing the tidal force exerted by the moon, you now can do the same with static electricity!

What you will need:

  • a plastic rod (or a pen, or a comb)
  • a piece of cloth
  • running water

Steps:

  • Rub the surface of the rod with the cloth for 40 seconds
  • Turn the tap on so there is a steady stream of water
  • Put the rod near the water and watch it ‘bend’

How it works:

When the negatively-charged rod approaches the water, it repels the electrons in the water. This gives the water nearest to the rod a positive charge. The attraction between this positive charge and the negatively charged comb asserts a net force on the water. This allows you to ‘bend ’water.


6.Hovering Plates

hovering plates

Magnets aren’t the only things that repel each other.

What you will need:

  • A piece of cloth
  • 2 Styrofoam plates

Steps:

  • Rub the base of a plate with the cloth
  • Place the plate on a flat surface
  • Try to place the other plate (base-down) on the other plate and watch as they repel.

How it works:

This trick works due to static electricity, which happens when you rub things together. The plate gains electrons from the cloth and becomes negatively charged. These electrons repel the electrons in the other plate.


7. Classroom: Magic Pen

What you need:

  • Plastic Pen
  • Small scraps of paper
  • Wool sweater or piece of cloth

Steps:

  • Rub a plastic pen on the wool sweater and hold it near a stream of water. What do you observe?
  • Rub the pen on the sweater again and try to pick up small pieces of paper.

How it works:

In all of these experiments, we are manually moving electrons from one material to another. Your pen attracts the pieces of paper because it was created an induced charge. The positive charges of the paper are attracted by the negative charges (electrons) from the pen and it sticks!