Your furry cat and small balloons are the perfect recipes for some hilarious pranks on your feline pet. With a little understanding of static electricity, you can learn how to build static charges to make balloons stick to your cat’s fur or your little sister’s hair! There’s a lot of fun with this science experiment, so let’s get started!
WHAT IS STATIC ELECTRICITY?
As you probably already know, all things are made up of atoms that contain subatomic particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons in the atom’s nucleus have a positive charge, and the electrons that orbit the nucleus have a negative charge. When certain kinds of materials that fall under a classification called the triboelectric series (a list of ranks of materials according to their tendency to gain or lose electrons) are brushed against each other, they build up an electrical charge.
Materials higher up on the series have weakly bound electrons and readily lose them to materials lower in the series when the two are brushed against each other. Therefore, materials that lose electrons have more protons, leading to the material becoming positively charged. Materials that gain electrons become negatively charged as they have more electrons.
Static charges formed in this manner often flow to the ground as soon as they are formed. However, if static charges form on a non-conductor or a material not connected to the ground, they can stay trapped on the material until they can flow to the ground.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU RUB A BALLOON ON YOUR HAIR?
When you rub a balloon on your dry hair, it creates static electricity by transferring some of the electrons from your hair to the balloon. This means that your hair has a more positive charge, and the balloon has acquired a negative charge.
As soon as the balloon is moved away from the hair, the difference in charges creates a small electric force of attraction that makes the hair stand up! You can also stick the charged balloon to your furry pet and watch them jump around to get rid of the balloon. 😊
FUN STATIC ELECTRICITY EXPERIMENTS WITH BALLOONS
Here are a few experiments you can try to see static electricity in action!
The Water Bender: Rub an inflated balloon over dry hair or wool to make it acquire a negative charge. Turn on the sink to get a super-thin stream of water. Bring the balloon closer and watch the stream change direction!
Soda Can Telekinesis: Rub a balloon with your hair and bring it close to an empty soda can on a flat surface. The difference in charge attracts the can, making it roll!
- Static electricity is caused by a build-up of electric charges when different materials on the triboelectric series are rubbed against each other.
- Materials higher in the triboelectric series readily lose electrons when brushed against materials lower in the series. Some objects readily lose electrons, and some readily gain electrons.
- When brushed against hair or fur, balloons gain electrons to become negatively charged.
1. Can a balloon create static electricity?
Yes, it is possible to create balloon static electricity by rubbing it against dry hair and wool.
2. Is balloon and hair static electricity?
Rubbing a balloon with hair can create static electricity.
3. How do you make static electricity spark?
Walk across a carpet wearing clean socks. Scuff the carpet a few times and touch a metal doorknob to see a spark jump from the finger to the knob.
We hope you enjoyed studying this lesson and learned something cool about Static Electricity – Balloons! Join our Discord community to get any questions you may have answered and to engage with other students just like you! We promise, it makes studying much more fun! 😎
- 15.2 Homemade Static Electricity. https://flexbooks.ck12.org/cbook/ck-12-physics-flexbook-2.0/section/15.2/related/rwa/homemade-static-electricity/. Accessed 25 Jan 2022.
- 15.1 Electric Charge and Electric Force. https://flexbooks.ck12.org/cbook/ck-12-physics-flexbook-2.0/section/15.1/primary/lesson/forces-on-charged-objects-phys/. Accessed 25 Jan 2022.
- What Is Static Electricity?. https://www.livescience.com/51656-static-electricity.html.Accessed 25 Jan 2022.
- Q: What Is “Static Electricity,” and How Can I See Its Effects?. https://www.nsta.org/q-what-static-electricity-and-how-can-i-see-its-effects#:~:text=Rubbing%20the%20balloon%20against%20hair,has%20a%20net%20positive%20charge. Accessed 25 Jan 2022.