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.
Step 2: Have your child give a plastic comb a static charge by running it through their hair.
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!
Kristi @ Creative Connections for Kids Feb 13, 2011
This is wonderful experiment. Static is so much fun and quite a wonder to play with it. One thing I like to do is to turn the light out in our laundry room then remove the clothes from the dryer. (Don't use fabric softener or dryer sheets) Then watch the sparks fly as you take the clothes out.
Rachel | Racheous Oct 10, 2013
How great! My son would LOVE seeing the water bend!!
copykick.com Apr 19, 2014
This is a topic that's close to my heart...
Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?
Em Apr 26, 2014
Rub a ballon on hair to create static then hold over tiny torn up pieces of paper or for best results empty a hole puncher - the little pieces of paper jump up and down between table and balloon as the electric charge within them changes from positive to negative and back
Sarah Apr 26, 2014
That's a great idea!
Death itself Dec 7, 2017
That is an amazing idea
Pizza Hut Dec 11, 2017
Me and my friend are doing this for a project and we hope it really works
deathitself Dec 12, 2017
Hey are you pizza hut the youtuber
yeah right Mar 16, 2018
Will May 23, 2020
Great experiment for sure, but the charge isn't alternating between positive and negative. The balloon acquires negative charge from the hair and becomes a big, negatively charged object. The paper is neutral but, when close to the balloon *some* of the electrons in the paper are repelled to the far side of the paper, leaving it still neutral but polarized (one side is positive, the other is negative). Since the positive side of the neutral but polarized paper is closer to the negative balloon the paper "jumps" to the balloon. But, upon contact, some of the excess electrons on the charged balloon migrate into the uncharged paper and it becomes negative too and is repelled. So: first it's attraction by polarization, then the paper is charged by conduction (contact) and then it's mutual repulsion. When the paper hits the table after being repelled it'll lose it's excess charge to the table and the whole thing can repeat.
Kelsey Eastburn Dec 10, 2017
Can you tell me which book you're using as a reference? Thanks for the great ideas!
sexy man Aug 6, 2018
very good honey
.lib Nov 10, 2019
Does the comb have a positive or negative charge?
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