Demonstrate the power of electricity with these easy static electricity science experiments! There are two activities to try with items from around the house: a fun salt and pepper static electricity experiment and a bending water static electricity experiment.
Our weather has been so cold and dry lately – not my idea of perfect weather. But, it’s perfect weather for static electricity science experiments! You can do these experiments any day, but they definitely work best when the air is dry. If the weather is excessively humid, you may not get good results.
Experiment #1: Salt and Pepper Static Electricity Experiment
- A shallow bowl or dish
- A spoon
- A plastic comb
Step 1: Put some salt and pepper in a small dish. Stir it together.
By the way, we discovered that if one person charges the comb and then hands it to another person, it does not stay charged! The person who wants to do the experiment must also be the one who charges the comb!
Step 3: Hold the statically charged comb over the dish, and the comb will attract the pepper causing it to jump up out of the dish. This was really pretty amazing to watch! You can literally watch the little pieces of pepper fly up to the comb.
Experiment #2: Bending Water Static Electricity Experiment
- A sink
- A comb or a balloon
We did this impressive science experiment in my fifth grade class, and I have remembered it all these years!
This experiment can be done with a comb OR a balloon. Either one will work just fine.
Turn on the faucet with a very small stream of water. The smaller, the better, but you do need the water to be running consistently and not just dripping.
Then charge either the comb or the balloon by running it through your hair.
Hold the comb or the balloon very close to the stream of water, but not touching it. Then watch the WATER BEND! WOW!
The Science Behind These Experiments:
All matter is made up of atoms, and all atoms are made up of protons (positive charge), neutrons (no charge), and electrons (negative charge). The charges (negative and positive) are usually balanced in each atom, and so the atoms are not charged, and the object is not charged. However, when you rub two things together (like a comb and hair), some electrons move from one to the other, causing one item to have a positive charge and the other to have a negative charge. They now attract each other because of their opposite charges.
Static electricity does not build up very well on a humid day because the charged particles are likely to attach themselves to water molecules in the air.
Need more Static Electricity Experiments?
Here are a few more of our favorites!
Static Electricity Experiments with Balloons – Make the balloons repel each other, and build an electroscope. Again, these experiments use supplies from around the house.
Make Jumping Goop – Use cornstarch and oil to make a liquid that is statically charged. Now that’s cool!