PBS Parents Adventures in Learning_Static Electricity Balloon Science Activity

Within a week to ten days of you reading this sentence, a balloon or two will likely be falling down around your head as you bid adieu to the year that was and ring in with glee the futuristic sounding ‘2016’.

This simple but simply amazing science activity will give those balloons a 2nd life and give your kids a look at the impact static electricity has on a couple of kitchen staples.

PBS Parents Adventures in Learning_Static Electricity Balloon Science Activity

What You’ll Need

  • Balloon
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Plate
  • At least one head of hair

How To Start The Salt and Pepper Static Electricity Balloon Activity

  1. Save one of those celebratory balloons from being popped, or blow up a new one fully and tie it closed. Set it aside for a moment.
  2. Pour small mounds of table salt and ground black pepper onto a plate.
  3. Have your child use their fingers to combine the two.
  4. Aggressively rub the balloon on a head of hair.
  5. Hold the balloon over top of the plate.
  6. Observe the static electricity!
PBS Parents Adventures in Learning_Static Electricity Balloon Science Activity

Observing Static Electricity In Action

By rubbing the balloon on your (or your child’s) head you’re creating friction and static electricity (your hair is probably a little crazy looking right now). In addition to the wild new hairdo, you have also given the balloon electrons that have a negative electrical charge. Because the protons in salt and pepper are both positive charges, and because opposites attract, you will see (and hear! shhhh) salt and pepper levitating up from the plate and sticking to the balloon. It’s not magic or even the slightest bit futuristic — it’s static electricity!

PBS Parents Adventures in Learning_Static Electricity Balloon Science Activity

Now, move the balloon closer and then further away from the plate. What changes? Do the salt and pepper rise up to the balloon at the same rate or does pepper’s lighter weight make an impact? Have fun playing with and observing static electricity, and have a Happy New Year!

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About Jeff Bogle

Jeff Bogle

Jeff Bogle is an at-home dad who writes humorously about parenting and All Things Childhood on his site Out With The Kids. He is married to an adorable redheaded gal and has two lovely little ladies 12 and under who provide him with countless hours of humorous in-home entertainment, and who get to hear, see, and play with more cool stuff than you can possibly imagine.

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