Flying Tinsel – How to

Learn how to make a loop of tinsel float and glide around using static electricity! Students use recyclable materials to assemble a wand and then rub it with foam covered with fabric. Rubbing a cloth, such as silk, on the plastic tube causes an electrical charge separation. Some electrons are pulled off one material and transferred to the other material. If the rubbed plastic tube has excess electrons then when the tinsel, having a metallic coating, touches the rubbed area some excess electrons move to and travel along the tinsel. Since the tinsel and tube now both have the same excess (negative) charge the tinsel is repelled away from the tube. The extra electrons on the metal tinsel surface move apart due to being equally repelling, forcing the tinsel to take on a looped shape.


Grades Covered: through
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Idea Sheets are cross-referenced to subjects listed in the Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and California Content Standards.

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