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National Static Electricity Day

Updated on October 3, 2015
EdTecher profile image

Heidi Reina, M.S., Ed, is an educational technology integrator and former teacher, reviewing free educational websites and apps.

Image courtesy of Ken Bosma from Green Valley, Arizona, under Creative Commons license.
Image courtesy of Ken Bosma from Green Valley, Arizona, under Creative Commons license.

Learn all about Static Electricity and How to Prevent Static Shocks

It's electrifying, annoying and exciting all at once. And January 9 is the perfect day to celebrate, study, play with, or scream about static electricity.

There are many ways to get charged up on this special day. Perform some fun science experiments with it. Teach kids about static electricity. And learn how to prevent static shocks.

To learn more about electricity, check out the science websites listed on LearningReviews Electricity & Magnetism Websites for Kids

Image of lithium atom by Halfdan, under Creative Common license.
Image of lithium atom by Halfdan, under Creative Common license. | Source

What is Static Electricity?

It all starts with atoms. Atoms consist of protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons and neutrons like to hang tight together in the nucleus (center of the atom). The electrons orbit the nucleus. The outermost electrons are pretty free-ranging and fickle and they easily attach to other atoms.

Some action - usually friction from items rubbing against each other - causes the free-ranging electrons to release from one object or person to another. This causes a negative charge (static electricity) to build up in clothing, fingers, hair, etc.

As you move across a carpet, particularly, you build up a negative charge. And all those free-ranging electrons like to gather at the tips of irregularly shapes objects, like your fingers. So when your fingertips approach a good conductor, like a doorknob, a light switch, or another person's fingers, all of this static electricity is no longer static. It makes a dash for the gap and ZAP! You get a shock.

You notice this effect particularly in the winter because the air is much dryer. The dry air around your body acts as an insulator and allows your body to gather a greater number of electrons and so a greater negative charge. In the more humid air of summer, those excess electrons are shed from your body more easily. So you don't build up the same kind of charge you do in the winter.

Lessons in Static Electricity - from the Physics Classroom

Positively and Negatively Charged Atoms
Positively and Negatively Charged Atoms

When 2 positively or negatively charged items come close together, they repel each other - such as each hair on your head when you pull a sweater over your head.

When a negatively charged item comes near a positively charged item, such as your hair near a balloon or clothes in the dryer, they attract each other and cling together.

The Physics Classroom has detailed lessons to explain these concepts.

Crocs Fuse Clog is an ESD shoe

Crocs Unisex Fuse Clog
Crocs Unisex Fuse Clog

Like other Crocs, their Fuse Clog is comfortable and especially useful in winter if you're bothered by static shocks or clingy skirts and pants. They dissipate the static charge to keep you shock-free.

John Travoltage Static Electricity Simulation
John Travoltage Static Electricity Simulation

Static Electricity Simulation

John Travoltage demonstrates static electricity and static shock discharge in this interactive simulation from the PhET team at the University of Colorado.

Bill Nye Rocks Static Electricity

How Do Different Materials React to Static Electricity
How Do Different Materials React to Static Electricity

Try a Static Electricity Experiment or Science Project

Find out How Different Materials React to Static Electricity. In this project, you make an electroscope to test the amount of static charge in a variety of objects.

Become a Human Conductor of Electricity. In this experiment, see if you can power a light bulb.

More Fun Static Electricity Experiments

Hair-raising ways to celebrate the day

Bending Water Experiment

A faucet and a comb are all that are needed for this experiment.

Make Very Tiny Lightning Anytime! | Exploratorium

This experiment is especially electrifying if you can do it in a dark room.

Create static electricity - Fun Science Experiments for Kids

Here's the classic balloon experiment with a twist. Can you create an invisible leash?

Lightning in a Salt Grinder

How to Prevent Static Shock

Stop static electricity in its tracks!

1. Wear natural fibers. Synthetic fibers generate more of a static charge than cotton.

2. Use a humidifier. Increase the humidity in your house. Dry air increases the frequency and severity of static shocks.

3. Wear ESD shoes. ESD (Electrostatic discharge) shoes are specially made shoes designed for people who work with electronics. ESD shoes "ground" you and conduct any charge you build up through your feet to the floor. Can't afford ESD shoes? Leather-soled shoes work better than synthetic-soled shoes. Or walk barefoot or cover your shoes with aluminum foil.

4. Use anti-static skin lotion. This is a specialty lotion also designed for people who work with electronics.

How Shocked are You?

Are you bothered by static electricity in the winter?

See results

Steve Spangler Demonstrating the Fun Fly Stick

Share your Most Shocking Experience with Static Electricity

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    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      Sending this to some of my science teacher friends. They'll enjoy it.

    • profile image

      Do-It-Yourself-Solar 4 years ago

      Nice sharing of thought about it. Many people will help to have an idea about the static things. Thanks

    • profile image

      Do-It-Yourself-Solar 4 years ago

      it looks like they are enjoying having on a static experiments, is this all true? I just want to try sometimes.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lots of fun. Thanks.

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 6 years ago

      Great lens! I learned a lot and really enjoyed the videos. Angel Blessed!

    • BobZau profile image

      Bob Zau 6 years ago

      The wonder stick is too cool!

    • profile image

      TravelingRae 6 years ago

      A doorknob, a carpet, and I once created an impressive lightning bolt that nearly knocked me off my feet!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Am glad to know about this.

    • alittlebitofeve profile image

      alittlebitofeve 6 years ago

      Bill Nye the science guy! Always a treat when he is on a lens (which is really quite rare).

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      enjoyed this even though the holiday has already passed.

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 6 years ago from New York

      Electrifying and a fun lens!

    • profile image

      Tanami 6 years ago

      Can you get esd shoes as safety boots with steel caps? Interesting lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I can't believe I missed National Static Electricity Day by one day....well, I guess you could say that I'm shocked!

    • profile image

      mennella 6 years ago

      interesting, useful and funny. a very good job!

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 6 years ago

      Its winter where I live so that means a lot of static electricity. Nice lens for an original day.

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 6 years ago from McLaughlin

      Interesting fun Day!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      Who knew there was such a holiday. Great info.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      What a shocking holiday! Blessed by a SquidAngel. :)

    • Rhidawn profile image

      Rhidawn 6 years ago

      Great lens! Looks like static electricity day is tomarrow! I'ma shock someone to celebrate! LoL

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 6 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      I guess I'm still waiting for it to happen. No shocking experience with static electricity here.