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Testing ... 1, 2, 3

Previously you performed an experiment to create electricity. The type of electricity that you made is called static electricity. There are two kinds of electricity: static electricity and current electricity.

Static electricity is electric energy that remains in one place. Static means standing still. Static electricity stays in one place.

The static electricity stayed on the balloon, the comb, and on you when you rubbed your shoes on the carpet. It usually stays in one place unless it has a chance to jump. It stayed with you until you touched your friend. When you touched your friend, did you see a spark? That was the energy moving to your friend.

A spark is a sudden rush of energy that leaps through the air. When the energy rushes through the air it heats up the air so much that the air glows. The glow that you see is the spark.

Do it!

Time to check and see what materials you can get the spark from static electricity to go to!


  • Balloon
  • Piece of wool
  • String
  • Materials to test
    • Another balloon
    • Small piece of aluminum foil
    • Peanut
    • Small piece of styrofoam
    • More??? What do you think you want to try?


  1. Blow up the first balloon and attach it to the piece of string.
  2. Rub the balloon with the piece of wool.
  3. Hold the balloon by the string.
  4. Tie an object that you want to test to another piece of string.
  5. Slowly bring the balloon close to your test object by moving the string it is attached to.
  6. Observe what happens when the balloon gets close to your test object.
  7. Continue experimenting with other test objects.


  1. Did the balloon go closer to your test object?
  2. What kind of materials showed the spark jumping (between the object and the balloon?)
  3. Can you predict other materials which will allow a spark to jump the gap?
Are you ready for a BIG mystery question? What is a really, really, REALLY big static electricity spark called? Highlight the box below to check your answer!
Watch the Polarity Quicktime video to see how static electricity attracts other materials towards itself.


Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.
Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 5th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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