Explore the power of static electricity with these fun hands-on experiments.

Have you ever gotten a “shock” while walking or running in your socks or watched someone’s hair fly up in the air when it’s rubbed against a balloon? If you have you’ve seen static electricity in action!  The rubbing between those two objects (eg. socks & floor or hair & balloon) causes some of the electrons in an atom to break away. But atoms like to be balanced. So if an electron is floating free in the world what will it work to do? Find a proton to ATTRACT to!

Want to duplicate this experiment at home or in your classroom? Watch the video for an overview, gather the materials listed at the right, and follow the instructions below!

Required Materials

  • can
  • straw
  • plastic bottle
  • balloon

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1

Blow up your balloon, and tie it off.

Step 2

Rub it on your shirt. It’s best if you use a wool material.

Step 3

Hold it over your head, and watch what happens to your hair! Note if you hear any sounds.

Step 4

Rub the plastic straw on your shirt. Then balance the straw on top of your bottle.

Step 5

Rub your hands on your shirt. Without touching the straw put your hands on opposite sides and opposite ends of the straw. Without touching the straw, watch what happens when you move your hands towards the straw!

Step 6

Rub the balloon on the wool shirt.

Step 7

Move the balloon towards the can, so that it is close to touching the can.

Step 8

Move the balloon away from the can, and watch what happens.