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Active Time
30-45 minutes
Total Project Time
30-45 minutes
Key Concepts
Electricity, conductivity, induction, electrons, charge

Introduction

Have you ever been zapped by a door knob or another person? It feels like a little electric shock and usually happens on cold and dry winter days. Where is this shock coming from? Why is it that sometimes you get zapped and sometimes you don't? It all has to do with static electricity, which can build up in some materials and then be transferred from one object to another. Sometimes you can even see a spark fly between them! In this science activity you will explore how well materials around the house produce static electricity by making a simple, homemade electroscope (an instrument that detects electric charges) and testing it out. The results may shock you!

Credits

Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,200 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.

Materials

  • Metal hanger (uncoated) or copper wire (at least gauge 14)
  • Glass jar
  • Straw
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard
  • Electrical tape
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pliers
  • Piece of Styrofoam®
  • Piece of wool
  • Optional: piece of wood, plastic bag, tablespoon
    Materials needed for the 'Measure Static Electricity With An Electroscope!' activity.

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Active Time
30-45 minutes
Total Project Time
30-45 minutes
Key Concepts
Electricity, conductivity, induction, electrons, charge
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