In today’s lesson, students learned the fundamentals of static electricity and its role in everyday life. 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 (rubbed on the students’ heads or with pieces of felt) and homemade electroscopes to play with static electricity and observe its properties. We also demonstrated a Wimshurst machine, which really “sparked” their interest.
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: