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Static Electricity and Water

Here is a simple physics experiment using a property called static electricity. 

Every object is made up of small particles called atoms.

These particles are extremely small and you cannot see them without a microscope.

There are two types of charges in every atom — positive change(s) and negative charge(s).

Only negative charges are free to move.

A balloon comprises many atoms and so does your hair.

When balloon is charged with static electricity, it can bend water.

How cool is that?!

water stream from facet bends towards a pink balloon

Static Electricity and Water

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

In this experiment, you will generate static electricity and use it to bend water.

Materials

  • inflated balloon
  • your own hair (or a dry microfiber cloth)

Tools

  • kitchen faucet
  • adult supervision

Instructions

  1. Turn on the kitchen faucet to get a narrow, continuous stream of water.
  2. Rub the inflated balloon on your hair several times until some of your hair starts sticking to the balloon when you lift the balloon.
  3. Place the balloon near, but not touching, the stream of water.
  4. Observe how the water bends towards the balloon.

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Why

When you rub a balloon on your hair, the balloon picks up the free negative charges from your hair making the balloon negatively charged.

This imbalance of electric changes on the surface of the balloon is called static electricity.

Static electricity, unlike current electricity (e.g. simple circuit), does not flow through wires or conductors.

The charge remains there until it is removed.

How Does Static Electricity Bend Water?

Opposite charges attract.

When you bring the balloon close to the water stream, the negative charge attracts the positive parts in the water atoms.

The attraction pulls the water towards the balloon as it is flowing and bend the stream.

Tap water stream is straight, when a balloon is presented, the steam bends towards it, a static electricity science experiment.

References

Learn about Static Charge & Static Shock

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