As soon as kids can speak they are asking questions aren’t they? How big is space, if the world is round why don’t we fall off, how do airplanes stay in the air? And then there are the whys, why, why, why? I lost count of how many times the boys asked why when they were little.
Some days we want to say just because, sometimes we don’t have the answer. But you have to love the inquisitiveness kids display? Always questioning everything? As a parent all we want to do is give them the answers to all of their burning questions. Including the secret of success and the meaning of life?
In order to get kids thinking differently about science, BBC has launched Terrific Scientific, offering DIY discoveries that families can try in their own homes with everyday household items. This is such a wonderful resource to explore some of those questions that pop up at home. What I really love is that it addresses bigger questions but does not give all the answers; it also offers opportunities to explore and investigate.
And as we all know our children brains may be like sponges. For them a huge part of learning is doing, not just being told, or reading. It’s about the physical reinforcement of facts, and the only way to do this is thorough life lessons of controlled experiments presented in a fun and exciting way.
Joe and I have been testing the site and becoming scientific explorers for the last couple of weeks.
And in our official capacity of explorers we have taken part in our own Terrific Scientific experiment. We have been making water bend with static electricity.
Top tip before you start, if you buy a packet of balloons take a couple out and hide the rest. Our home is full of balloons!
To Make Bendy Water
You will need, a balloon or a plastic comb and any items you may want to test such as a jumper or scarf. Try different materials for different results.
- Open the cold water tap and leave it running with a very thin stream of water
- Blow up a balloon and tie a knot in the end so it stays inflated. Any balloon shape will work.
- Rub the balloon several times on your head. If you have long hair you might see some clinging to the balloon. Don’t put the balloon down or let it touch anything; Hold the balloon as close to the thin stream of water as you can without touching the water.
- See how the stream of water moves towards the balloon.
- Alternatively rub the balloon several times on your clothes instead of your hair – jumpers work best.
- Another alternative is to run a plastic comb through your hair for a few seconds. Place the comb close to the stream of water and you should see the same effect.
How does it work?
When you rub the balloon or pull the comb through your hair some invisible particles, called electrons, transfer from your hair or clothes onto the balloon or comb. The more you do this the more will get transferred. You have now created a tiny amount of static electricity on your balloon or comb.
Water has no static electricity; but if something with static is placed close by, it is attracted by the static charge so you see the water bend towards the balloon or comb.
The electrons in the static charge give the balloon or comb a negative charge. Water has an equal balance of negative and positive charges. The negative charge on the balloon or comb attracts the positive charge in the water so pulling the water closer. And as we know with magnets opposites attract.
Try rubbing the balloon on different materials like we did such as a linen and wool. Try rubbing the balloon the same number of times on different material samples and compare how much the water bends.
Once you’ve rubbed your balloon or comb, try picking up small pieces of tissue paper with it. The force of gravity is pulling the water down but the static is providing another force.
This was such a great experiment to try at home; Joe loved exploring the concept of static electricity and even managed to stick to balloon of the dogs back at one stage. Terrific Scientific is a great way to get involved with science and do an experiment with your kids. And with a choice of easy and fascinating experiments to choose from it’s a wonderful way to spend time together and keep the kids entertained. Why not head over to the Terrific Scientific hub to find out more. As for Joe and I, we will most definitely be exploring and trying some more experiments soon.
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