Name of Activity Intro To Static Eelectricity with Balloons
Author STOMP
Keywords static, electricity, balloon
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will use balloons to attempt to pick up various objects and then discuss as a group why certain objects stuck to the balloon while others did not.
Lesson Objectives: Students at the end of the lesson should understand how electrons are transferred to objects due to friction, and how the addition of electrons affects repulsion and attraction to other objects.
Materials Needed:
  • Balloons
  • plastic balls
  • flour
  • salt
  • string
  • glitter
  • pieces of paper
  • paperclips
  • worksheet for students to keep track of their observations (Provided below).
Preparation and Set Up: Wihle one STOMP fellow prepares the materials for the students, the other fellow can go through a brief introductory lesson (powerpoint attached below).
Necessary Background Students should be given background regarding electricity and static electricity. Some vocabulary that may be helpful include: charge, electrons, protons, attraction, and repulsion.  It is key to explain that only electrons are transferred, and when they are transferred through friction it makes the balloon more negative, thus making other objects attracted to it.  This effect only lasts for a short amount of time since only a few electrons are transferred to the balloon.  Drawing diagrams of more negative and more positive ends of objects helps to explain this.

It might also be helpful to give real life example such as: static shock due to rubbing socks against a carpet.

  1. Arrange students into pairs.
  2. Provide students with paper to keep track of their observations (attached below).
  3. Allow students to test their materials.
  4. Discuss with class why some materials can be picked up and others cannot.
  5. Discuss what is physically causing the materials to be attracted to the plastic balloons 
Extensions: Have students experiment with other objects around the classroom.
Reference 1 Worksheet for Testing:
Online Reference(s) Power Point: Static Electricity
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity and Magnitism
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One Response to Intro to Static Electricity with Balloons

  1. Devyn Curley says:

    For this activity, we had objects such as tin foil, paper, Popsicle sticks, paperclips, string, and salt to test for attraction. We had the students predict whether or not the materials would be attracted to the balloons before testing. They had some trouble with the concept of predictions, and this took a little assistance. They were on task for initial testing, and were excited about the balloons sticking to things around the room, but got off task after about 10 minutes of testing and started just playing with the balloons.

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