Name of Activity Intro to Static Electricity
Author STOMP
Keywords static, electicity
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students use plastic balls and/or balloons to attempt to pick up various objects using static electricity.
Lesson Objectives: Introduce students to the concepts of electricity and static electricity using a combination of discussion and a hands-on activity.
Materials Needed: -Plastic balls and/or balloons (Note: Double-check before entering the classroom that these objects WILL actually pick up materials.)
-Various light items such as scraps of paper, salt, flour, glitter, string, etc.
Necessary Background Students should be given background regarding electricity and static electricity. Some vocabulary that may be helpful include: charge, electron, attract, repel, conductor, and insulator. Students should brainstorm various materials that would be considered either conductors or insulators.
  1. Arrange students in pairs or groups, depending on availability of materials.
  2. Provide students with paper to keep track of their observations.
  3. Allow each pair/group to test several types of materials.
  4. Discuss with class why some materials can be picked up and others cannot. Discuss what is physically causing the materials to be attracted to the plastic balls/balloons.
Extensions: If your classroom happens to have a sink, an interesting demonstration could be showing how static electricity will affect a stream of water (it will repel it). You could also mimic this activity with a funnel or some type of vessel with a small hole and a bucket of some kind to catch the water as it falls.
Online Reference(s)
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity & Magnetism
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One Response to Intro to Static Electricity

  1. I highly recommend doing the demonstration of static electricity on water! The students loved it. This will only work well with a lot of static charge and a fairly thin stream of water. We had our sink running on low and had to actually rub balloons against our head to get this to work!

    Have students guess if the static electricity will attract or repel the water. Why or why not?

    Here is a video showing the effect:

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