# Static electricity soda can

by Amy Collins July 18, 2018

### You will need:

• 1 Gratnells shallow (F1) tray
• 1 clean, empty, fizzy drinks can
• 1 inflated balloon
• Optional: bigger trays (Gratnells A3 or Art trays), additional cans, more balloons, a stopwatch.

### What to do:

1. Place the can on its side in the centre of the shallow tray.
2. Rub the balloon quickly back and forth against your clothing for at least 30 seconds to ‘charge’ it – a nice woolly jumper would work well.
3. Predict what will happen when you move the charged balloon close to the can.
4. Move the charged balloon close to the can, but not touching it, and observe what happens.

### What is happening?

It’s all about electrons. Electrons can move from atom to atom and object to object. When the balloon is rubbed against the jumper, an excess of invisible electrons (negatively charged) build up on the surface of the balloon. This is called static electricity. The electrons have sufficient power to pull very light (positively charged) objects towards them, like the can. Static electricity dissipates over time, so the charge won’t last very long, but you can build it back up again by recharging the balloon on your jumper.

### Other things to try…

• Soda Can Races! Working with some friends or classmates, place several cans lined up along the edge of a Gratnells Art or A3 tray, each charge up your own balloon and see which can makes it to the opposite side of the tray first powered only by static electricity.
• Use a stopwatch to time how long it takes for the can to travel the full length of the tray.