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Science - 5th Grade
Standard 4 Objective 1
Six classroom learning stations will give students many opportunities to experiment with static electricity.
When you shuffle across a carpet and touch a metal doorknob you may get zapped! You may feel a tiny electric shock as a spark jumps from you to the metal. This sort of electricity is called static electricity. It can make your hair stand on end, attract dust to the television set, or stick a balloon to the wall. It can cause your clothes to stick together as they come out of the dryer. Static electricity builds up charges in one place. It is stationary. When it discharges, it becomes current electricity.
1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills
2. Manifest Scientific Attitudes and Interests
3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles
4. Communicate Effectively Using Science Language and Reasoning
Invitation to Learn
“Romeo, Romeo, where art thou, Romeo?” (Juliet flings left arm out and bends right arm with hand on chest and exclaims. . .
“I’m Juliet Electron and I’m looking for Romeo Proton. Will you (point to students) help me find him?”
When you walked across the carpet on a dry winter day and touched someone . . . Zap!. . . a small electrical shock happened. This is called static electricity, or the story of Romeo Proton and Juliet Electron. Static electricity is a buildup of charges on non-metallic materials. When objects are rubbed, their electrons move from one atom, or material, to another causing an unbalance in charges and creating an electric current. Electrons have a negative charge and the materials that lost the electrons become positively charged by the same amount. Electrons aren’t really lost, they just move.
When you walked across carpet you picked up extra Juliet Electrons. When you extended your finger to touch Romeo Proton, the extra electrons on you caused the electrons on neutrally balanced Romeo to move away from your finger. This caused a positive charge on Romeo.
“A-ha!” exclaims Juliet.
Romeo now has a positive charge and all the extra electrons on Juliet are attracted to positively charged Romeo. (opposite charges attract) Your lovebird, Juliet Electron, is not going to stay stationary any longer. An electric current has developed. When she sees Romeo Proton getting closer, she runs to him and gives him a shock! (Juliet, spying Romeo, runs toward him, extends her finger, touches his ear and he pretends to receive a shock.) It’s static electricity! (End of play. Thunderous applause!)
Students are given the same opportunity to experiment with static electricity. The room is setup into six stations—two of each as outlined below. Place materials for each station on a table, including a station sign and Station Directions. Students rotate from one station to the next approximately every seven minutes until they have participated in each station. They write what they observe at each station and include drawings in a science journal.
Station 1—Snake Charmer
Explanation: The charged end of the balloon gains electrons from the wool cloth, thus building up a negative charge. The string is neutral until attracted by induction to the balloon. (OPPOSITES ATTRACT.)
Station 2—Romeo and Juliet
Explanation: Juliet builds up a negative charge from the electrons gained from the carpet. Romeo becomes positively charged by induction. (OPPOSITES ATTRACT)
Station 3—Balloon Games
Explanation: The balloons are neutral and should not react to each other.
Explanation: The charged balloon will attract the other balloon because the wool cloth will have left extra electrons on the balloon, giving it a negative charge. When the negatively charged balloon is brought near the neutral balloon, it induces a positive charge near the surface of the balloon. The negative charges on the neutral balloon will separate and run away, and the positive charges will be attracted to the charged balloon. (OPPOSITE CHARGES ATTRACT.)
Explanation: Rubbing creates a gain of electrons on both balloons, causing them to repel. (LIKE CHARGES REPEL.)
Since Juliet was practicing devilish pranks on Romeo, lets end by seeing how near to the angels some of you may become with a halo activity.
Build an electroscope using the Making Electroscope handout. Students design an electroscope with their family and conduct the experiment at the bottom of the page. Complete the Electroscopes handoutand share with the class. Encourage students to design additional electroscope experiments.