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Measuring static electricityFeatured science projectScience project video


This experiment was performed to investigate the amount of static electricity in various materials. The experiment was done on hair, polyester, carpet, cotton, nylon and a ceramic tile, using a rubber balloon.


Human hair will have the highest amount of static electricity.

Scientific Terms

Static electricity, electric charges, atom, nucleus, neutron, proton, electron, triboelectric


Static Electricity

Static electricity is created when electric charges accumulate on the surface of a body. These electric charges will remain on the surface until they are discharged by contact with another surface.

All materials consist of atoms. These atoms have a nucleus containing neutrons and protons while the electrons are positioned outside the nucleus. The ability of an object to hold on to its electron or to release it, is determined by the object’s position in the triboelectric series.

When a certain matter is able to release its electron easily, it will become positively charged and fall on the positive side of the triboelectric series. On the other hand, if the matter captures electrons easily, it will become negatively charged and fall on the negative side of the triboelectric series.

Static charges are easily created by rubbing two insulating materials together. Friction between the two materials helps to generate static electricity. Through the rubbing process, electrons are transferred from the surface that releases electrons easily, to the surface captures electrons easily.

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