STATIC ELECTRIC FORCE BALLOON DEMOSTRATION
A fantastic demonstration which can be used to visualise the fact that like charges push against each other and opposite charges pull together.
It is also a fun and creativity demonstration that can be used to help explain how lightning is formed in clouds!
TRANSPARENT LATEX BALLOONS 10 PACK with a small bag of polystyrene beads
- Size: 30 cm (12 inches)
- 10 pack
- Transparent balloons
- Made from natural rubber latex
- Bag of polystyrene beads
STATIC ELECTRICITY DEMONSTRATION
Secrets for Success
- A balloon pump must be used to inflate the balloons as there is too much moisture in our breath. Water prevents the build-up of static charge.
- Don’t over inflate the balloon – you don’t want it to explode.
- Store your latex balloons away from sunlight, preferably in an opaque container. Sunlight and ozone combine to oxidise the surface of the balloon which then weakens the balloon.
Science in a Nutshell
When insulating materials – in this case the latex balloon and the polystyrene beads – rub against each other, they may become electrically charged. Electrons, which are negatively charged, are pulled from one material on to the other. The material that gains electrons becomes negatively charged. The material that loses electrons is left with an overall positive charge.
The rubber balloon loses its electrons to the polystyrene beads.
Like charges repel each other – this is why the polystyrene beads spread out on the inside surface of the balloon.
Opposite charges attract – this is why the polystyrene beads stick to the surface of the balloon.
When the balloon is rubbed on hair, charges move from the hair to the balloon. The balloon and the hair then have opposite charges. When you slowly lift the balloon away from the hair the electric force of attraction is strong enough to lift the hair.
The size of this force decreases with distance so as you keep moving the balloon away from the hair the hair will eventually drop. However, when you then bring the balloon closer to the head the hair will then spring back up!
Lightning is the most spectacular element of a thunderstorm, not just for the amazing light show but also for the fact that lightning causes thunder!
Lightning is a discharge of electricity. A single stroke of lightning can heat the air around it to 30,000°C This extreme heating causes the air to expand explosively fast. The expansion creates a shock wave that turns into a booming sound wave, known as thunder.