Thursday, March 1, 2012

Physics: Static Electricity

Believe it or not?!

  • A balloon sticks to the wall.
  • A stream of water bends.
  • Two strips of plastic torn from a bag held side by side sway in opposite directions from each other.

Like most magic tricks, what you see is never the whole story. What causes materials to be attracted to or repelled from other materials is a phenomenon called static electricity, an imbalance in charges. This week we tried to understand a little more about how electricity works at the atomic level. To do so we reviewed the atom's basic structure, including positively charged protons, neutral neutrons, and most important for our topic, negatively charged electrons. We talked about how atoms that gain or lose or electrons becomes charged, and are then attracted to oppositely charged materials.

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