Who says learning’s not fun? Certainly not my grand-twins!
Winter’s the time for bundling up. What happens when you take off your winter hat or hood? Your hair becomes all static-y and stands on end. So?
So — this is exactly what happened today after picking up my 5-year-old grandtwins, and so came the questions. “Grammy, why is your/my hair sticking up in the air?” “Why did I get a pricker (electric shock) when I hung my coat on the hook?”
What’s a grandmother to do when faced with these kinds of questions? Create a science experiment to demonstrate the answer, which is, of course “static electricity”.
Electricity is not easy to explain. You can’t see it but you know it’s there, powering everything from the lights to the oven to the computer. How does one create or demonstrate static electricity? Balloons!
Who knew how much fun balloons could be?
Demonstrating Static Electricity — Fun with Balloons
1. Blow up balloons and tie them to secure. Make sure they’re fairly firm. (Kids will need adult help. But they sure love to try blowing them up and letting them go dancing into the air!.)
2. Make some “snow” by cutting or tearing tissue paper into a heap of little bits.
3. Rub a balloon several times, very fast, on your t-shirt or sweater.
4. Hold the balloon against the wall – it sticks! That’s because it is now charged with electricity.
5. Rub the balloon again and hold it just an inch or two above the paper “snow”. As you move the balloon to the right or left, the flakes will move and eventually be lifted up by the static electricity and adhere to the balloon. As the electricity leaks away, the flakes begin to fall.
6. Rub the balloon again to recharge it. Hold it near your hair. What happens? The hair begins to fly away and sticks straight up!
The kids were fascinated, too, when Papa made them fly by letting them go before tying them and he made them “sing” by stretching the neck near the opening to the right and left. Trying to replicate these activities occupied the boys for a long time.
Once the giggling stopped, we tried to pop the balloons. What fun. We tried to stomp on them. We tried to sit on them. We even tried to have Grammy and both of the kids sit on them at once. Finally, we stuck them with toothpicks to pop them, and oh, the laughter! Nothing beats a grandchild’s giggle-licious laugh!
Sometimes, the simplest questions lead to the most wonderful adventures. Try it.
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