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Static Electricity Science Project For Kids: Swinging Cereal

Updated on April 20, 2009
Lela Davidson profile image

Lela Davidson is a mother and writer, passionate about healthcare and education for women and children.

Did you know ordinary cereal can be used to demonstrate the properties of static electricity in an engaging science project? Kids can learn to love science if they are given the opportunity to learn about it within the context of the word around them. Whether home on a break or just bored on the weekend, there are plenty of easy-to-do science projects kids can do at home. Fun science experiments can spur an interest in children who may or may not already be excited about science. This project demonstrates the properties of static electricity.

What you need:

  • hard rubber or plastic comb, or a balloon
  • thread
  • scissors
  • small pieces of O-shaped dry cereal, like Cheerios
  • hair or wool sweater

Step 1: Cut the thread to be 12 inches long.

Step 2: Tie a piece of cereal to one end of the thread and tape the other end someplace that allows the string to swing freely. A table top works well. You don’t want the cereal to hit anything else as it swings.

Step 3: Wash the comb with warm soapy water to remove any oils. Dry well.

Step 4: Charge the comb with electricity by running it through dry hair several times. If you don’t want to use hair, you can rub the comb on a wool sweater instead.

Step 5: Moving slowly, move the comb near the cereal hanging on the string. As the comb gets closer, the cereal will swing to touch the comb. After a few moments, the charge will dissipate (go away) and the cereal will move away from the comb by itself.

Step 6: Try to touch the comb to the cereal again. It will move away as the comb approaches.

You can also use a balloon instead of a comb for this project.

Tips for Success:
This project works best when you use the part of the charged object (comb or balloon) that has the biggest charge. This will be the part that was rubbed against the hair or sweater.

The swinging cereal project works best on dry days.

Why Does This Happen?
When you comb your hair or rub the comb (or balloon) against the wool sweater, electrons move from your hair or the sweater to the comb. The comb then has a negative static charge. Because the cereal is neutral, it is attracted to the negative charge of the comb like a magnet. When they touch, electrons start moving from the comb to the cereal. Once both objects have the same negative charge, the cereal is no longer attracted to the comb.

Other Science Projects:

Fingerprint Project - Learning about fingerprints and taking them is a fun experiment that also gives instant results. This project appeals to a wide variety of ages too. For little kids, you can emphasize playing with the ink, and for older kids you can put a ‘Junior CSI' spin on the experiment.

Making Crystals - Making crystals is a fun project for kids that can be done for a science project or science fair, or just for fun. You will need to use the microwave for this project, so an adult may have to help a very young child.

Image Credit: Phu Son, Flickr

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    ghsdfdhj 

    7 years ago

    it did not work i got an f

  • profile image

    Allie 

    7 years ago

    My name is Allie, and I am 13 yrs old. This project works really good!

  • profile image

    madison 

    7 years ago

    hello

  • profile image

    julie 

    7 years ago

    helo

  • profile image

    Mr. D's Teacher Resource Website Matthew De Gasperi 

    7 years ago

    Nice experiment. Thanks for sharing this Hub.

  • ss sneh profile image

    ss sneh 

    8 years ago from the Incredible India!

    One the oldest natural phenomenon observed by humans...which ultimately lead to the discovery of the electromagnetic force and electricity. Good hub to read!

  • profile image

    natalie 

    8 years ago

    I did this project and it is so cool and also it doesn't take that long to do it like other projects

  • profile image

    jone 

    8 years ago

    hiiii

    We known that can see how many kids would be excited about this. Getting the children to work with objects from their everyday life, such as Cheerios.

    ...............

    jone

    swingers

  • profile image

    waystodeliverproj 

    8 years ago

    nice project!..i appreciate it much..thanks for sharing.

  • profile image

    personal 

    8 years ago

    this project seems really easy and interesting. lolz!!!!!!!!!!~@#$%^&*

  • martycraigs profile image

    martycraigs 

    8 years ago

    What an interesting experiment. I can see how many kids would be excited about this. Getting the children to work with objects from their everyday life, such as Cheerios, can really help pull them in!

    Neat hub, thanks for sharing this.

  • profile image

    00987 

    8 years ago

    what r the major findings of the experiment

  • QouSay profile image

    QouSay 

    8 years ago

    I haven't tried this when i was a kid and its fun though..

  • profile image

    angelou 

    8 years ago

    i like it very much,, it is very interesting!!!!!!!!!!!:)

  • Gin Delloway profile image

    Gin Delloway 

    9 years ago

    nice hub! I like it!! =)

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