Play with Static Electricity

Have you ever run across a carpet floor in socks to turn on a light switch and ZAP! you were shocked when you touched something metal? This is called static electricity and we will be using it to help TC repair the butterfly robot.

What you'll need:

  • Printed butterfly body (or even better, draw your own!)
  • Small sheet of tissue paper
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Pipe cleaner (optional)
  • Balloon
  • Tape or glue
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

 

First, print and cut out the butterfly's body. You could also draw your own - make sure it is about five inches tall.

Next, make the butterfly's wings. Fold the tissue paper in half, then draw one wing along the folded edge. Cut it out and unfold it into two wings! If you'd like you can decorate the wings with markers.

 

Next, tape or glue the wings onto the back of the butterfly's body. Then tape this onto the toilet paper roll.

 

Optional: tape a pipe cleaner inside the toilet paper roll to be the butterfly's antenna.

 The butterfly is complete!

Now it's time to help the butterfly flap it's wings! To do this we will need to create static electricity.

Static electricity is a build up of an electrical charge (specifically, negatively charged electrons). This can happen when two things rub together. For example, when your socks rub against carpet, or your hair rubs against a sweater. You can also build up static electricity by rubbing a balloon against your clothes.

 

Once an object has built up a static charge it can attract or repel other objects without touching them! To help the butterfly, we can use the static electricity in the balloon to attract the tissue paper wings.

Static electricity can also create a spark. You can feel this when you touch something metal after building up an electric charge (sometimes if there is enough electricity you can also hear or see the spark too!). Lightening is a really big example of static electricity. Lightening happens when a static shock jumps from the clouds to the ground.

Want to learn more? Here is a good YouTube video that explains how static electricity works.

We hope you enjoyed this activity! If you have any questions or feedback we'd love to hear from you in the comments.

This activity is based on the book If: Ball, Then: Catch, available here!


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