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Welcome to the first post in our Fall Homeschool Science Series! Be sure to read this post first for my tips and thoughts on teaching chemistry to kids! Today, we will talk about static electricity. I will provide some background information and some free printable note-booking pages with not one, not two, but three fun static electricity experiments! Also, be sure to check out the supplemental reading at the end of the post.

What is static electricity in simple words?

Protons, neutrons, and electrons

First, let’s talk about atoms. Atoms are made of protons (positively charged particles), neutrons (neutral particles), and electrons (negatively charged particles).  Positively charged protons are attracted to negatively charged electrons. 

Sometimes, electrons can escape from an atom! One such instance is when the fabric from our clothes rubs against our skin or when we drag our stockinged feet on a carpet. Electrons are escaping from the atoms in our body making our skin more positive (due to the net loss of electrons).

You will feel a “shock” of electricity if you touch something more negative than you such as a metal doorknob (metal loves holding onto electrons) or your sibling who wasn’t rubbing his or her stockinged feet on the carpeted floor.


What is the main cause of static electricity?


In the fall, the air in northern climates becomes colder and less humid/dryer. Cold air contains less moisture than warm air. You know this when your lips or skin feel dryer in the colder months. 

The air all around us is composed of gases, one of which is water in the vapor (gas) form. In the cooler, less humid months less water vapor is present. 

In warmer months when the air has more water in the form of vapor (moisture), the electrons that escape from our body are transferred to the water molecules before they can be transferred to our doorknob or sister, thus causing us to rarely experience a shock in the warmer months.

static electricity

What are examples of static electricity?

Examples of static electricity include:

  • lightening
  • clothes tumbling in a dryer
  • stockinged feet rubbing on a carpeted floor
  • sliding down a plastic playground slide
  • rubbing a balloon on your hair
  • pulling a fleece or flannel blanket across the bed or yourself in the winter

How can I get rid of static electricity?

  • add moisture to the air with a humidifier
  • use dryer sheets
  • keep a dryer sheet in your pocket

The Experiments

Let’s observe static electricity! The fall (and even winter) is the perfect time to perform these experiments because the air is naturally dryer. Here are the materials you will need:

Experiment 1

  • Facial Tissues
  • Balloon
  • Antistatic dryer sheets

Experiment 2

  • Playground slide
  • Antistatic dryer sheets

Experiment 3

  • Balloon 
  • Faucet with running water

Free Printable Lab Notebook Pages

I have made some free printable lab note-booking pages for your children (and you!) to record your hypotheses, observations, and results! You can access them by subscribing. You will receive one email confirming your subscription and another email with a link to the subscriber library and password. Save the second email so that you can always access my free printables for you!

Alternatively, you may also just wish to perform the experiments and lead the children in an open discussion. Some questions to get you started are:

  1. Why do you think XYZ happened in this experiment?
  2. How is static electricity at play?
  3. What other related experiments would you like to try?
  4. How could we improve this experiment?
static electricity
Subscribe to access the experiment notebook pages

Optional Read Alouds to Enhance the Lesson

We love a good living book for read aloud time in our homeschool for all ages. Here are some fun and informative books about static electricity:

Brilliant! 25 Catholic Scientists, Mathematicians, and Supersmart People (pg. 31: Laura Bassi)

How to Dress a Duck and Other Stories from Science (pg. 62: Lightning!) 

Fun with Static Electricity: Static Electricity

Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World


Science is a gift from God

I hope you enjoy these fun static electricity experiments with your kids! Always remind them that science is a gift from God, and it is a privilege that He allows us a small peak into how His wonderful world works! 

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