Balloon and Bubble Fun

In this demo experiment from our school workshop series, your students will learn about static electricity and how it can move mountains; well bubbles at least!

Read on to find out more!

Although static electricity can be a nuisance—like getting shock when you touch a doorknob or having static cling on your clothes, it can also do fun stuff and is also very useful.

You will need

A Balloon, warm soapy water, a straw, your hair!

Watch the video and try it out yourself.

(Video made by Mary O’Donnell)

Here’s the science…

Atoms make up everything around us and they are made up of positive protons and negative electrons. When you rub your hair with the balloon you are transfering electrons from your head onto the surface of the balloon. This builds up a negative charge on the balloon. Inside water the atoms can move around freely, so when the negatively charged balloon comes close to the bubbles in the water, it attracts the positively charged protons in the water and this pulls or moves the bubbles along. Just like opposites attract, this is exactly how static electricity works!

Did you know?

  • We’ve all seen bright lightening filling up the sky in a thunder storm. That is caused by static electricity. Huge amounts of it! Lightning occurs when huge quantities of electrostatic energy builds up in clouds. When electrically charged parts of clouds discharge this static electricity or energy, a large flash of light can be seen in the sky.
  • Your photocopier or Xerox machine uses static electricity to copy print to a page. This is done through the science of xerography. One version of this device electrically charges ink so that it will stick to the paper in the designated areas. Another version of a photocopier uses charges to stick the ink to a drum, which then transfers it to the paper.


Uses for Static Electricity

Electricity in Nature