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.
What You’ll Need
- Salt & Pepper
- At least one head of hair
How To Start The Salt and Pepper Static Electricity Balloon Activity
- 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.
- Pour small mounds of table salt and ground black pepper onto a plate.
- Have your child use their fingers to combine the two.
- Aggressively rub the balloon on a head of hair.
- Hold the balloon over top of the plate.
- Observe the static electricity!
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!
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!