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Testing Static Electricity

Postby MeinsterGirls » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:40 pm

Frustrated!!! I am attempting to do that static electricity testing experiment with my Kindergartener but every balloon is sticking FOREVER to the wall. Even with a single swipe. Are we doing something wrong? Please help, her fair is this Friday and I don't know how to make this work. I have tried 4 different types of balloons. I have tried wool, carpet and clothing. Either they stick indefinitely or they never stick at all, most of the time, they stick indefinitely.

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Re: Testing Static Electricity

Postby bvionis » Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:43 pm


When you refer to a static electricity experiment, I assume you mean the "Rubbing Up Against Static Electricity" experiment provided by Science Buddies? If this is the case, there are several things you may try in order to fix the apparent problems and inconsistencies in your results.

Firstly, are you making sure to rub the balloon in the same direction every time? Rather than swiping up and down on the balloon with the material you are rubbing it with, try consistently swiping in one direction. This way, you can reduce the chance of negating (or even unnecessarily increasing) the electron transfer from the balloon to the wool, hopefully making the production of static electricity more predictable and accurate based off the number of strokes experienced by the balloon.

Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the humidity of the air. If the balloons are excessively attracted to the material you are using, you may want to consider experimenting in areas of slightly higher humidity. This is because of the fact that, when humidity levels are higher, there is a greater concentration of water vapor in the surrounding air, allowing some of the charge to "leak" as a result of it being slightly attracted to the conductive water molecules. Thus, in a higher humidity environment, the attraction between the balloon and the wool, carpet, clothing, etc. would most likely not last as long as it did during your experimentations.

A third factor that may be indirectly affecting your experiment's success is temperature. Because the moisture of the air tends to drop with the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere, colder temperatures often result in dryer (and therefore more static-prone) conditions. The opposite can be said with higher atmospheric temperatures, in which the temperature required for water to condense is lower, thus resulting in a moister environment (which, as explained above, discourages strong "static").

If you have any questions or encounter any other problems, please let me know. I will be happy to further help!

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