Check for Charge (Static Electricity)

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What You Do:

Discuss “charge” and electron flow through conductive material.

Build an electroscope to detect charge in various classroom materials.

Test classroom materials for the ability to hold charge.

Recommended Lead-Up Lesson: Sticky Static

What you need:


Beaker ( about 4 inches tall and less wide at the opening than an index card, 1 per group )

Index Card ( 1 per group )

Paperclip ( 1 per group )

Aluminum Foil ( 1 roll per class )

Masking Tape ( 1 roll per class )

Balloon ( 10 or so per class )

Assorted Materials to Test for Charge ( Paper scraps, rulers, erasers ect. )

Check for Charge Worksheet ( 1 per student )

What’s Happening:

An electroscope is an instrument for detecting the presence of static electricity. It consists of two thin metal leaves suspended from a metal hook. When the hook is brought near a source of static electricity, some of the electrons in the hook are pushed to the leaves (if the source is negative) or pulled up to the hook from the leaves (if the source is positive). Either way, the leaves are now charged the same way as each other and so they repel each other. The amount they open up is proportional to the charge of the source (if the sources are always held at the same distance from the hook).

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