Static Balloon – Kids Experiment

What is static electricity and how do we make it? Well there’s a number of ways you can create static electricity, but for this experiment we’re going to be keeping it simple. This is the ‘Static Balloon’ experiment, it’s very easy to do but a lot of fun to play with!

You will need:

  • A balloon
  • Tissue paper/kitchen roll
  • Clothing made of wool (e.g. a jumper or a sock – Optional)
  • Balloon Pump (Optional)

Method:

  • Firstly, grab your tissue paper/kitchen roll and tear it into a bunch of tiny pieces. This will be for your balloon to “pick up”, so you can choose how much you want to use. Scatter the pieces on a hard surface like a table or a kitchen counter.
  • Next you’ll want to prepare your “static balloon”. Blow up your balloon (using your balloon pump if you wish) and tie it so that no air will escape. Once you have your blown up balloon, rub it repeatedly against your hair or some woolly clothing.
  • Your balloon should now have a static charge. To test it, you can hold it over your ripped up pieces of tissue paper/kitchen roll, which should start clinging to your balloon. Hovering the balloon above your hair will also have a similar effect, making your hair stand up straight in a silly manner.

The Science Bit:

The Static Balloon experiment may be simple, but the science behind it is a little more complicated. Bluntly put, static electricity is the build up of an electrical charge on the surface of an object. In this case, the balloon we’ve used has built up this charge due to the wool or hair it’s been rubbed against. Generally wool is a good material to build up an electrical charge because it is very conductive. This means that the electrons in the wool can easily move the balloon’s surface.

You may have notice that your electrical charged balloon sticks to other objects as well. For example, you can try rubbing your balloon against your hair or a woolly piece of clothing and try sticking the balloon to a wall. Better yet, blow up another balloon and apply the same charge to it, how do the two balloons interact with each other?