Meet New Friends!

Recommended friends are based on your interests. Make sure they are up to date.


Static Electricity 101

Ever walked across the room to pet your dog and got a shock instead? Ever taken off your hat on a dry winter day and had a "hair raising" experience? Ever made a balloon stick on the wall by rubbing it against your clothes? Is it magic? No – it’s static electricity!

Attraction Action

To understanding static electricity you need to understand the basics of atoms and magnetism first.

All physical objects are made up of atoms. Inside an atom are protons, electrons and neutrons. The protons are positively charged, the electrons are negatively charged, and the neutrons are neutral.

Therefore, all things are made up of charges. Opposite charges attract each other (negative to positive). Like (similar) charges repel each other (positive to positive or negative to negative). Most of the time positive and negative charges are balanced in an object, which makes that object neutral.

Balancing Act

Static electricity is the result of an imbalance between negative and positive charges in an object. These charges can build up on the surface of an object until they find a way to be released or discharged.

The rubbing of certain materials against one another can transfer negative charges, or electrons. For example, if you rub your shoe on the carpet, your body collects extra electrons. The electrons cling to your body until they can be released. As you reach and touch your furry friend, you get a shock. Don't worry: it’s just the surplus electrons being released from you to your unsuspecting pet.

And what about that "hair raising" experience? As you remove your hat, electrons are transferred from hat to hair, creating that interesting hairdo! Remember, objects with the same charge repel each other. Because they have the same charge, your hair will stand on end. Your hairs are simply trying to get as far away from each other as possible!

When you rub a balloon against your clothes and it sticks to the wall, you are adding a surplus of electrons (negative charges) to the surface of the balloon. The wall is now more positively charged than the balloon. As the two come in contact, the balloon will stick because of the rule that opposites attract (positive to negative).

Related Stories:


latest videos


What's your fave static electricity experiment?

  • Making your hhair stand up on end
  • Rubbing your feet on a carpet to get a shock
  • Making a balloon stick to the wall

related stories

If you kept digging, what would you find? Probably lots of worms, roots, and a few dog bones. But...
Where does the energy come from to keep your house warm, lights on and car running? Here's a look...
It's hard to imagine that water can be used to create electricity. The two are a dangerous combin...

Random in the forums

trendycute posted in Debating:
So theres this thing where it says you have to be 13 to have a phone well what if you need to call for help at school or call your mom when shes at work telling her you need something its sooo not fair in my opinion.What do you think?let me know in the comment below lol it rhymes.
reply 18 minutes
winter break is supposed to be for fun(though none of us really do anything)if I could I would report that teacher for not understanding the term winter break:)
reply 31 minutes
HappyBaker posted in General:
Baby cats ARE (;)) little bombs that explode when they touch water. Big cats are big bombs of the same kind xPWhat is a bomb?
reply about 2 hours
HappyBaker posted in General:
Thanks :P yeah I realised that xD
reply about 2 hours
hugebear posted in General:
Puppies What is the the baby cats called?
reply about 2 hours

play online games