Magnets and Static Electricity

Try This At Home

Sticky balloons

You Will Need

  • Water balloons
  • A balloon pump

What to Do

  1. On a dry day inflate lots of small water balloons using a balloon pump.
  2. Now you need to build up a static charge on the balloons. To do this, rub the balloon on your head or your clothes. Synthetic or woollen clothes build up a lot of static charge.
  3. Once you’ve charged your balloons with lots of rubbing they’re ready to stick.
  4. Stick the balloon on you or your child’s hair.
  5. Test what other objects the charged balloons will stick to; for example, the wall or clothing.

What’s happening?

Some things build static charge when rubbed together. For example, when your shoes rub against the carpet or your clothes rub against a slippery slide. When the charge moves to something else it gives you a zap. These balloons shouldn’t give you a zap, but they will be electrically attracted to things and want to stick to them.

Discover More

  • How many balloons can you stick to your head?
  • Explore in front of the mirror how the charged balloons can make your child’s hair stand on end. How high can you get your hair?
  • What else can you stick the balloons to? Clothes or the wall?

Did You Know?

A balloon that is statically charged can attract (sticks to) or repel (pushes away) other objects just like a magnet. A statically charged balloon will be attracted to hair or clothes. When two balloons both have a similar static charge they will repel each other.