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The materials required for this experiment:

  • 9 wooden barbeque sticks (disposable skewers) 150 mm long each
  • Approximately 500 mm of copper wire
  • Red and black insulated wire (0.5 mm) , 5 meters long each
  • 1 tube of super adhesive glue
  • 1 roll of scotch tape
  • 1 roll of insulation tape
  • Aluminum foil 50mm x 500 mm
  • 1 DC high voltage power supply ?up to 50kV at 5005A
  • Ruler
  • Paper knife
  • 1 resistor 10kohm, 2W



  1. For this experiment, the independent variable is the DC voltage. The dependent variable is the height of the levitation. This is determined by measuring the height with a ruler. The constants (control variables) are the size of the lifter, the medium between the positive and negative poles, and the distance between the poles.
  2. The frame of the lifter is constructed as shown in Figure 2A. The wooden barbeque sticks are used because they are light, strong and suitable for a light frame construction. The sticks are cut to 150mm length. Then, using the super glue, join them as seen in the figure below. Allow the glue on the wooden frame to set for 1 hour before the next step.
  3. The aluminum foil is cut according to the shape shown in Figure 2B. The additional small extension at the corner for connecting the wire from the voltage source later. Using scotch tape, fix the aluminum foil to the center of the wooden frame as shown below.
  4. The copper wire is fixed on the top side of the wooden frame as shown in Figure 2C. The copper wire can be held in position with the help of the super glue or the scotch tape.
  5. Use Figure 2D as a visual guide for the following steps
  6. A DC40 kilovolt supply is connected to the lifter construction. The wire insulation is stripped about 40-50 mm on both sides. The red wire is connected to the positive terminal and the black wire to the negative terminal.
  7. On the lifter side, the red wire (positive) is connected to the copper wire on the top. The black wire (negative) is connected to the aluminum foil. The connections are twisted together and wrapped with insulation tape. (Note: The aluminum foil cannot be soldered to the stripped insulated wire. Connection method is by twisting, crocodile clip or crimping with a splice terminal).
  8. Power on the DC supply and record the observations. After you have noted your observations, switch the power off and use the 10 kohm resistor to discharge the stored energy between the copper wire and aluminum.
  9. High voltage is very dangerous and can cause death. This experiment should be conducted by an adult has experience dealing with high voltage equipment.
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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
1 day to prepare, 1 hour for experiment
Material availability:
Easily found except for high voltage power supply, which has to be ordered from equipment suppliers or may be obtained from a laboratory
Safety concerns:

The use of HIGH VOLTAGES is very dangerous. Please have the experiment conducted by an adult who is experienced dealing with high voltage equipment. The capacitive elements in the lifter can store the voltage for days after the power is switched off. Use a 10kohm 2watt resistor to discharge the stored energy between the copper wire and aluminum foil.