Science Project Details:

Static electricity discharge in cars

Featured science projectScience project video Intermediate 6 < 1 day $10-$25 [+] More info
Difficulty: Intermediate 6
Cost ($): 20
Time required: < 1 day
1 hour to prepare, 1 hour for science fair project
Availability of materials:
A car with leather seats and another with fabric seats, are required
Required Skills: None
Safety concerns:

Ensure that this experiment is conducted ina  well ventilated, safe place, with no flammable substances /gases present.

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The materials required for this science fair project experiment:
- 1 balloon
- 1 copper plate 200mm x 300mm
- 1 ground connection
- 1 jumper wire with crocodile clips  at  both ends
- 1 fabric car seat
- 1 leather car seat
- 1 polyester cloth
- 1 cotton cloth
- 1 nylon cloth
- 1 silk cloth
- a flat tray
- 1 ruler
- 1 large sheet of paper
- 1 paper knife


1. For this science fair project, the independent variable is the type of materials tested – namely fabric and leather car seats against cotton, polyester, nylon and silk cloths. The dependent variable is the number of paper pieces picked up by the balloon. The constants (control variables) are the size of the balloon, the number of times the balloon  is rubbed on the material tested, the direction of rubbing, and the weight of the paper bits.

2. The copper plate is connected to the ground connection using the jumper wire.

3. 200 pieces of paper measuring 5mm by 5mm  are cut out  from  the same sheet of paper. The pieces of paper are discharged from all electrical charges, by placing them on the grounded copper plate. They are then transferred to the flat tray.

4. The inflated balloon is discharged by rolling it over the grounded copper plate.

5. To start the science fair project, rub the balloon with the cotton cloth 5 times. Place the cut pieces of paper on the cloth car seat. The paper pieces will be attracted to the balloon. Count the number of paper pieces sticking to the balloon and record the quantity in the table given below. Discharge the paper pieces on the copper plate and return them to the tray.

6. Discharge the balloon again by rolling it on the  copper plate. Repeat  procedure 5 by placing the cut pieces of paper on the leather car seat. Record the number of papers collected .

7. Repeat procedures 5 and 6 by rubbing the balloon 5 times over the polyester cloth, nylon cloth and silk cloth in turn. Count the number of paper pieces collected and record  your findings.