fact sheet: Unusual
Have you ever gotten a small electric shock when you've touched something
metal? Have you tried rubbing a balloon against your hair and seen
how your hair stands on end and how the balloon can stick to a wall?
If you haven't, get a balloon and try it for yourself!
These are all examples of static electricity. We say that the balloon
has become charged. It has static electricity.
If an object is uncharged, it has equal amounts of positive
and negative charges. The positive charges are called protons and
the negative charges are called electrons. If these charges are
balanced, the object is neutral.
If there are different numbers of positive and negative charges,
the charges are unbalanced and the object is charged. If there are
more negative electrons, the object has a negative charge. If there
are more positive protons the object has a positive charge.
An object can be charged by knocking off its negative electrons.
If you take a strip of plastic polythene and rub it with a dry
dusting cloth, you can knock some electrons off the cloth and onto
the polythene. This makes the cloth have a positive charge. The
polythene has gained some more electrons, so it now has a negative
Sometimes when you walk towards your car door, you knock electrons
off the pavement (or whatever you've just walked over) and onto
you. You now have a negative charge. When you touch the metal handle
of a car, the negative electrons flow out of you and onto the car.
Whenever electrons move, or flow, this is called electricity. You
get a little electric shock as the electrons move from you and onto
to investigate static electricity and water.
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