Electrostatics: It’s a Hair-raising Good Time

Electrostatics:  The Shocking Truth

In today’s lesson, students learned the fundamentals of static electricity and its role in everyday life. Remember that static electricity is caused by the build-up of unbalanced charges (lightning, socks tumbling in the hot dryer, shuffling across carpets in wool socks in winter) that release a spark when they return to a neutral or ground state.

We then explored static up-close using “charged” balloons and homemade electroscopes.  We used balloons to play with static electricity and explain its properties.  We also demonstrated a Wimshurst machine for the students and with the lights off it really “sparked” their interest.

Additional Information:

What exactly is a Wimshurt machine?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wimshurst_machine

For more information on lightning research and safety information, check out NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory:

http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/research/lightning/

electrostatics

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