Science Experiments for Kids

Science can be a fun subject, especially for kids.

By trying some simple experiments, kids have the opportunity to learn more about the world around them and have a blast trying out new concepts. In this article, I’ll detail 4 exciting experiments that are simple, inexpensive, entertaining, and teach your child all about the wonders of static electricity.

A) The Classic: Clingy Balloons

Step 1: Blow up a few balloons and tie them off.
Step 2: Rub the balloons (pretty vigorously) with a piece of wool or a woolen sweater.
Step 3: Put the balloons up on the ceiling and be amazed! The balloons will remain there for a few hours.

Why does this work?
As the surfaces of the balloons are rubbed with the wool negatively charged electrons are lost and the balloons become statically charged. Since charged objects attract uncharged objects (in this case, the ceiling), the balloons will stick to the ceiling until the charges of the two objects become equal.

* Bonus: put the balloons all together in one spot and watch the charged bodies repel each other.

B) Curvy Water

Step 1: Rub a plastic spoon with a piece of wool or a woolen sweater.
Step 2: Turn the faucet on low so that a slow stream of water is running into the sink. Make sure that you do not turn the water up too high or this experiment will not work as well.
Step 3: Put the spoon near the stream of water and watch the liquid bow like magic!

Why does this work?
As the spoon is rubbed with the wool it becomes positively charged as it loses electrons. The electrically charged spoon is then able to attract the uncharged particles from the stream of water, making it bow towards the spoon.

C) Salt and Pepper Separation

Step 1: Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of pepper onto a table or other flat, dry surface. Mix the salt and pepper together.
Step 2: Rub a plastic spoon with a piece or wool or woolen sweater.
Step 3: Hold the spoon high above the salt and pepper and lower the utensil slowly. As the spoon gets near the mixture, the pepper will seem to jump out of the pile and onto the charged spoon while the salt stays on the table. If you want to capture the salt, simply move the spoon closer to the table.

Why does this work?
The spoon becomes electrically charged when you rub it with the wool because you are removing electrons from the spoon’s surface, giving it a positive charge. The negatively charged pepper or salt will then be attracted to the charged spoon.

Because the pepper is lighter than the salt, it will jump onto the charged spoon first. The salt, being heavier, will need to have the spoon closer to it before it can move off of the table.

D) Dancing Dolls
*This is an experiment that used to keep me entertained for quite a while as a young kid!*

Step 1: Lay 2 books flat on a table, leaving about 6″-10″ of space between them.
Step 2: Lay a pane of glass across the books. It will look like a bridge spanning the 2 books.
Step 3: Place a metal plate of some kind under the glass pane, between the two books. We used to use old pie tins for this.
Step 4: Cut out a few paper dolls from a sheet of tissue paper and lay them on the metal plate.
Step 5: Take a piece of wool or a woolen sweater and rub it across the glass. Te little tissue dolls will stand, dance, twirl, and move along with your wool cloth.

Why does this work?
When you rub the wool on the glass pane, the glass becomes electrically charged and attracts the negatively charged dolls. As the dolls are attracted to the glass, they too become charged.

Since the like charges repel one another, the dolls topple back onto the metal plate, lose their charge, and are attracted to the glass again. This is why it looks like they are jumping and dancing!

* Don’t have a pane of glass? Try a comb instead. Cut out the same tissue dolls, run a comb through your hair a few times, then put the comb near the dolls. They will stand and practically jump onto the charged comb. With enough practice you can even get them to dance across the table!