Static Electricity Facts
Did you know that there were different types of electricity? Well there are, and one of them is called static electricity.
We’re going to give you all the cool facts about static electricity and you’ll be one smart kid!
Amazingly we see static electricity every single day; it even builds up on us. Wow! Have you ever rubbed your feet on the carpet and then zapped something when you touch it? Well that’s exactly what static electricity is.
If you’ve had a bad hair day and it sticks straight up, well this means that your hair has been charged. You don’t want to go to school like that.
Then there’s another irritating one, when pants or skirts stick to your legs, and they just keep on irritating you no matter what you do. There you go…that’s how we see static electricity every day.
What is Static Electricity?
- Static electricity is the build-up of an electrical charge on the surface of an object. The reason that it’s actually called static electricity is because the charges stay in one area for some time and don’t flow or move to a different area. Makes sense doesn’t it.
- Atoms are made up of neutrons, protons, and electrons. The electrons spin around on the outside. A static charge happens when two surfaces touch each other and the electrons move from one object to another. One of the objects will have a positive charge and the other a negative charge. If you rub an object quickly, like a balloon, or your feet on the carpet, these will build-up a rather large charge.
- Items with different charges (positive and negative) will attract each other, while items with similar charges (positive and positive) will push away from each other. It’s kind of like a magnet!
- So you’ve gone flying down a slide and your hair stands up straight up. This is because of the friction of sliding. It has caused a positive charge on each piece of hair. As each hair has the same charge, they all try and push away from each other, causing that funny straight hair to stand right up on end!
- The same happens with your skin. If it’s charged with static electricity, and they you touch something metal, your skin will get rid of the static electricity when you touch something metal. Pretty cool what it can do.
How is Static Electricity Used?
Static electricity has quite a few uses, here are some…
- It is used in printers and photocopiers where static electric charges attract the ink, or toner, to the paper.
- Other uses include paint sprayers, air filters, and dust removal.
Can Static Electricity Cause Damage?
- Some electronic chips, like you find in computers are very sensitive to static electricity. There are special bags that they are stored in.
- People who work with these types of electronics wear special straps that keep them ‘grounded’ so they won’t build up a charge and ruin the electronic components.
Cool Facts About Static Electricity
- A spark of static electricity can measure thousands of volts, but has very little current and only lasts for a short while. It has small amounts of power or energy.
- Lightning is also static electricity, and it is powerful and dangerous.
- Even though lightning is really dangerous, about 70% of people who are struck by lightning survive. Wow!
- Temperatures in a lightning bolt can hit 50,000°F or 27,760°C. Wow that’s seriously hot!
Words you Need to Know
Atoms – the smallest particle of a chemical element that can exist
Neutrons – a particle of about the same mass as a proton but without an electric charge
Protons – a stable particle with a positive electric charge equal in size to that of an electron
Electrons – a stable particle with a charge of negative electricity, found in all atoms and it acts as the primary carrier of electricity in solids
Friction – this is the resistance that one surface or object meets when moving over another
Volts – a volt is the unit of electric potential difference, or the size of the force that sends electrons through a circuit
Static Electricity Experiment
Now, test what you have learned by trying our static electricity experiment here! You will need a balloon, a cotton towel, a scissors and a plastic bag (make sure an adult is present).