The Hair-Raising Science of Static Electricity
by Camila Cruz, age 13
Have you ever rubbed a balloon against your hair, causing it to stand up? This happens because of static electricity. This type of electricity is stationary, meaning it does not flow or move.
Hair has a positive charge. So when a person rubs a balloon on their hair, negative charges transfer to the balloon from the hair, leaving it positively charged and the balloon negatively charged . Because positive and negative charges attract each other, the hair is drawn towards the balloon causing it to look like the hair is standing up.
Static electricity can be much more forceful than just making hair stand up. For example, lightning is made with static electricity. When the clouds rub against each other, they charge up, creating an enormous spark called lightning.
Another form of electricity is current electricity. This is the kind of electricity that makes your phone,tv and lights turn on. With current electricity the positive and negative charges flow through a circuit.
Static electricity is less obvious than current electricity, but it is no less important. Static electricity explains many unexpected sparks and movements we see in everyday life.
[Source: FOSS Science Stories]