Mar 4, 2014

WonderWorks: Static Electricity

Let's take advantage of this dry winter weather and have some fun with static cling!

Today's Topic: Static Electricity
tissue paper
polar fleece or wool scraps (or wool sweaters, fleece blankets, your winter coat, whatever...)
plastic rulers
thin plastic produce bags
Rice Krispies

Book:  I have to admit defeat here.  I've searched for a long time and (much to my surprise) haven't found any picture books that talk about static cling.  If you know of one, please leave your suggestion in the comments section below!  In the meantime, I found this very nice non-fiction title--
cover art All charged up : a look at electricity / Boothroyd, Jennifer

*Amended 5/2015 -- success!  If you read this book you'll find a fun static surprise at the end!
cover art Beep and Bah / Burks, James

Where I found inspiration:
Steve Spangler


What Kids Do: stick stuff to balloons!  feathers...
 scraps of tissue paper....
 feathers AND scraps of tissue paper...
 this guy (and his twin brother) discovered the delight in giving feathers "haircuts" in close proximity to a static-charged balloon:
 the little "hairs" would fly a very long distance in their effort to stick to the balloon!
 we also tried charming tissue paper snakes:
 and when the ruler wasn't charging up enough to attract the snake, this guy tried rubbing it on the balloon to see if that would help:
 honestly, static is way more fun to watch in action, so here's a video clip:

 We also made Rice Krispies dance!

 (also more fun to watch and hear in action)

 And we also achieved the elusive floating plastic ring!  (it often just wants to stick to the balloon, but we found that if you charged both the balloon and the plastic at the same time (with two people) that you could make it work!) this time it was floating vertically, sometimes it floated horizontal, but both times it was soooooo cool!
 but by the end of both classes, almost everyone was just doing this (bapping the balloons around the room with sheer joy):

Adult Challenge of the week:  Encourage your child to try out their own ideas.

Hindsight Tip: 
--A parent suggested putting out a mirror so kids could see their static-charged hair--that was lots of fun!

 Variations to try: 
-- try putting feathers or tissue paper or Rice Krispies into a very dry, empty plastic bottle and putting the lid on top, then rub the bottle on a static-producing surface and see what happens.
--flapping butterfly wings
--sticking packing materials (bags of air or styrofoam pellets) to the walls, your hair, your clothes...
--make a toothpick spin! (for slightly older kids than this age group, I think?)
--take notes about what sticks and what doesn't!
--one of the parents in this class told me about an anti-static gun that she'd had since the days of LP's.  If you can get your hands on one of those that would be SO much fun to demonstrate (and might make clean-up a bit easier.  whew!).

Related Apps: Ellie Electricity by The Quirkles : I haven't actually purchased this app (it's kinda pricey and I didn't find it until after this event, silly me), so I'm not recommending it, per se, it's just the only thing I've found that might include a story about static and I'm curious.  This is more a note to myself than anything else, but if any of you DO decide to try it out, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

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