Hair-Raising Electric Balloon
Electricity is everywhere - in this experiment we give a balloon a static charge and attract objects with it!
- Rub an inflated balloon on your head for about 10 seconds.
- Slowly move it away - what happens?
- What happens when you hold the balloon near small pieces of paper, an empty drink/soda can, or a thin stream of water running from a tap?
If you do it right you can even place the balloon on a wall or door and leave it stuck there!
So what's happening?
When you rub the balloon on your hair you are giving it a small electric charge. What's actually happening is you are rubbing tiny particles called electrons from your hair and onto the balloon. This gives the balloon a slightly negative charge and you and your hair a slightly positive charge, and opposite charges attract each other and try to stick to each other. This is why when you move the balloon away from your hair, your hair stands on end and tries to go with it!
You might notice that your hair carries on standing up after you take the balloon away - that's because you've left each hair with a positive charge and similar charges repel each other and try to get away from each other!
Because the electric charge isn't moving - it's not part of a circuit - so we call it static electricity.
Don't worry about getting zapped by this electric charge, it's very small and eventually the electrons will balance out again and the balloon loses its magical sticky powers. But if the air is dry enough you can leave the balloon on a wall and it can stay there for days!
What would happen if you:
- Had wet hair?
- Rubbed the balloon on a woolly jumper instead of your hair?
- Rubbed two balloons on your hair and then brought them together?