Static Electricity Experiment: Causing a Balloon to Stick to Things
by Ron Kurtus (revised 12 April 2013)
Rubbing a balloon on a wool sweater can create a static electric charge, such that the balloon will stick to things. This opens the door for a number of experiments relating to balloons and static electricity.
Questions you may have include:
- What is the purpose of the experiment?
- What research must be done?
- What is the experiment?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Purpose of experiment
To determine what is the best configuration to effectively demonstrate the balloon sticking?
Other questions you can answer through experiments are:
- Will the balloon stick to anything?
- What materials work the best?
- How long will the balloon stick to the wall?
- What would happen if you rubbed two balloons and tried to stick them together?
Balloon sticking to wall
Possible factors in the balloon sticking are:
- Balloon material
- Temperature of balloon
- Inflation of balloon
- Rubbing material
- Sticking material
- Wool, clothes, and other things to rub against the balloon
- Materials to stick against (usually parts of the room)
- Clock or stopwatch
(Note that static electricity experiments work the best on dry days. If it is rainy or damp outside, it is possible that things will not work very well.)
Experiment with sticking to different materials
- Rub a balloon some wool or your shirt.
- Then try to stick the balloon to different materials--like the wall, a door, the blackboard.
- Make a list of the materials and how well the balloon sticks.
- Draw some conclusions about the best and worst types of materials to stick to.
Experiment on materials to rub on
- Rub a balloon with different materials to see which works best for sticking it to the wall.
- Make a list of materials and how well they work for creating static electricity.
- Draw some conclusions and try to explain the reasons.
Experiment with length of time
- Use a clock to measure how long the balloon will stick to an object.
- Try this several days apart to see the effect that weather or humidity has on the length.
- Make a chart listing the time and the weather.
- Draw some conclusions.
Experiment with two balloons
- Tie two balloons to pieces of string.
- Rub each balloon with the same material to charge it.
- Hold the string and let the balloons get close.
- Do they attract or repel? Why? Explain the reasons for what happens.
There are a number of experiments you can do concerning static electricity effects on a balloon.
When you start something, stick to it
Resources and references
Questions and comments
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Static Electricity Experiment: Sticking Balloon to Things