Learning about static electricity is often one of the first hands-on science lessons children receive. Whether it’s rubbing a balloon on their hair or arriving at the bottom of a plastic slide and getting a little shock, most kids are pretty familiar with static electricity! Add Static Electricity Experiment for Kids as a fun little science trick that children (and adults) will love.
Getting Ready for Static Electricity Experiment for Kids:
There are a few different ways to bend water with static electricity. The method we used is simple and it allowed us to color the water with food coloring so we could see the bending effect even better. We gathered the following supplies:
- Two small paper cups
- Food coloring
- Head of hair or wool cloth
- Mixing bowl
I used a pushpin to poke a small hole in the bottom of one of the cups. Before inviting the kids over I tested the cup to make sure a small, but steady, stream of water would flow from the cup when it was filled with water.
I inflated the balloon and tied off the end so that we could use it to generate the static electricity we needed to bend water.
Bend Water with Static Electricity
We filled up one paper cup with water and added a couple drops of blue food coloring. My son took the balloon and rubbed it vigorously on his hair to create static electricity.
I held the cup with a hole in it directly over the mixing bowl. We poured the colored water into the cup with a hole in the bottom so there was a steady stream of water flowing out into the bowl.
My son held the charged balloon close to, but not touching, the stream of water. Sure enough, the stream veered off toward the balloon! It was so cool!
Another way to do this is to simply turn on the faucet to get a slow and steady stream of water. It works the same way, though using colored water is always fun for kids.
Bending water with static electricity works best on a dry day. If the air is too humid it may not work, for reasons explained below.
The Science Behind Static Electricity Experiment for Kids
Rubbing a balloon on a head of hair or a piece of wool cloth generates static electricity. This means that some of the electrons from the hair or wool move onto the balloon. This gives the balloon a slight negative charge that makes it attract or repel other objects, not unlike a magnet.
Water is composed of an oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms that share their electrons unequally. This causes the hydrogen atoms to carry a slight positive charge. When the balloon is held close to a stream of water, the slightly negative balloon attracts the slightly positive hydrogen atoms in the water, making the stream of water bend toward the balloon.
If the air is too humid, water molecules in the air will stick to the extra electrons on the balloon, basically taking away its static charge.
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This Static Electricity Experiment for Kids is a fun activity for children of all ages. It would be the perfect hands-on and engaging activity to do during your STEM lessons too!