Mobile Electrons and Static Cling
This simple interactive simulation provides a visual explanation for the phenomenon of static cling. It also helps the student visualize electrical polarization of a neutral surface. In the simulation, the student rubs a balloon against a sweater to give the balloon a net negative charge. In the process, electrons are removed from the sweater, giving the sweater a net positive charge. When the negative balloon is subsequently brought near the positive sweater or an electrically neutral wall, it is attracted to the other surface. Lesson plans for teachers are accessible on this site as well. Students often misidentify the reason for the development of what we call static electricity. Negatively charged electrons, which are on the outside of atoms, are relatively mobile whereas positive protons are not. This simulation underscores that transferring electrons from one object to another causes the phenomenon of static cling. The net negative charge on the balloon causes it to be attracted to a net positive sweater, and surprisingly to students, a neutral wall. The process of polarization of the neutral wall with the approach of a negative balloon is clearly illustrated in this simulation.
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- Describe and draw models for common static electricity concepts (transfer of charge, induction, attraction, repulsion, and grounding)
- Make predictions about force at a distance for various configurations of charge
What you need:
- Static Electricity
- Electric Charges
- Electric Force