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Fun Science for Kids: Static Electricity

Static electricity for kids


Six-year-old Emma saw this packaging in a box and instantly remembered the classic static electricity science balloon experiment we had done a couple years before. She rubbed the packaging on her head a few times to give it a negative charge:

Static electricity: rubbing the packet against hair gives it a negative charge

And stuck it to the positively-charged wall. These little packets are super lightweight, and some of them stayed stuck to the wall for two days before falling down! It was a fun demonstration of contact-induced charge separation that I think my kids will remember for a long time! I also suspect that they’ll be doing this whenever we have this type of packaging in the house from now on. :)

Static electricity: the negatively charged packet sticks to the positively charged wall


Wikipedia has a great explanation of static electricity, if you are looking to learn more.

What fun science are you doing in your house?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

31 thoughts on “Fun Science for Kids: Static Electricity”

  1. This looks like so much fun! Thanks for the idea. The comb next to running water isn’t super thrilling for my 3 year old. I’m sure he’d like the packaging bubbles sticking to the wall much better.

  2. Elisa | blissfulE

    I’ll definitely keep this in mind for the next time we get one of those packing pillows.

  3. What a neat trick! I have to show it to Anna! We’ve done a classic vinegar+soda+balloon experiment 2 weeks ago, and amazingly that balloon is still “alive”. Anna thinks it’s very special because no balloon survived for so long before.

    1. That is really cute that Anna thinks the balloon is so special for surviving. Actually, I want to say that our recent vinegar + soda balloon lasted an unusually long time as well. I wonder if it was just chance or if the vinegar/baking soda actually has some special effect? Hmm, maybe a science experiment to try…

  4. 2 days! Last year, Joshua did a science experiment with static electricity. So fun! We haven’t done any Science this week but last week we talked about metamorphosis and classifying living things.

  5. I use to love doing this as a kid…I can’t believe I have forgotten all about it!
    Thanks so much for the awesome reminder!
    And what a brilliant idea to use those packaging bubbles! :)

  6. I remember how much my children loved to do this. How cute to do it with these packing pillows (what are they called anyway?). Thanks for visiting.

  7. Thanks for the Wiki link on the explanation; I really appreciate that!
    Also many thanks for writing about Molly’s Pilgrim once. I ordered it for an incredibly low price and got it yesterday. Looking forward to readng it as a family Thanksgiving 2013!

    I love good book recommendations! Do you have good ones for beginning readers (girls)? Quinn is reading German, although she reads words someimes and realizes by herself that they must be English and adapts the pronunciation. However, in general, I must say learning to read in German seems much easier because you nearly always pronounce it exactly the way it is written.

    1. English pronunciation definitely makes reading harder! The first books that really caught Emma’s interest were the Ramona series, but she has enjoyed some of the Magic Tree House books, which are a little easier to read, I think, as well as the American Girl books that go along with the dolls.

    1. I don’t go into much detail – just told them that the wall had a positive charge, and that, when you rub the balloon (or packing thing) on your head it gives it a negative charge, and then they stick together (sort of) like magnets. I imagine finding an explanation will get harder and harder as my kids grow older and ask tougher questions!

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