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This is a static electricity lab
9, 10, 11, 12
By – David Cox
Primary Subject – Science
Grade Level – 9-12
- Why do objects attract or repel each other?
- You have probably experienced the effects of static electricity at some time, like when you walked across a rug, touched a metal object and received a shock. Objects acquire electric charges by gaining or losing electrons. Rubbing two dissimilar objects together may cause a gain or loss of electrons. A body that gains electrons has a net negative charge; and a body that losses electrons has a net positive charge.
- Conduct the following experiments while recording your results in as much detail as possible (diagrams may also be helpful in summarizing your results). Explain the how and why of the results obtained in each experiment. After each experiment there will be a class discussion for that experiment, in which you will be expected to participate.
- I. What happens when a rubber rod that has been rubbed with fur is brought close to, without touching, a suspended pith ball?
- II. What happens when a rubber rod that has been rubbed with fur is brought close to, without touching, the top of the electroscope?
- III. Place a metal wire on a beaker so it will not roll off. Position the pith ball so that it is near the exposed end of the metal wire. Neutralize the pith ball and wire. Bring a charged rubber rod close to the end of the wire opposite the pith ball. Describe your observations and predict why those observations occurred.
- IV. Place two metal wires on beakers and position them so their exposed ends touch. Bring the charged rubber rod near the insulation, not the exposed wire, on the end of one wire. Holding the charged rod next to the insulation of the wire, separate the wires by moving the other beaker. Do not touch the metal wires. Charge the pith ball using the charged rod. Move the charged pith ball close to the exposed end of one of the wires and record and explain your observations. Neutralize the pith ball and then recharge it. Bring it near the other wire and record and explain your observations.
- V. Why does a balloon rubbed with the fur stick to a wall?
- VI. Rub the balloon again with the fur and then hold it near, but not touching a small stream of water from a faucet. What happens and why?
- VII. Using equipment available in the room, create your own static electricity demonstration. Describe what you did and explain the results.
- VIII. Write a conclusion for this activity. Be sure to summarize what you learned about static electricity, as well as answer the question, “Why do objects attract or repel each other?”
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