Static magic

Explore the magical world of static electricity by making charged objects move without touching them.

a woman with glasses leans away as a young boy holds up a balloon in one hand
Sophie Scott and Hector experiment with static electricity, Image credit: The Royal Institution

Aims

Make objects move without touching them by charging them with static electricity.

ExpeRiment with different objects to see how static electricity affects them.

Learn about charged particles like electrons and how things gain or lose charge.

About this activity

In this fun, simple science activity to do at home with children, Sophie Scott and her son investigate static electricity. By rubbing a balloon or straw on a cloth or their clothes, they make balancing pencils, pens, and spoons move without touching them! In these experiments they discover how things with opposite charges attract, and those with the same charge repel. They investigate whether the phenomenon will work with a variety of objects and even a stream of running water, asking questions about the science at play as they go.

18 and 19 August holiday workshops cancelled

Due to planned transport strikes, all holiday workshops on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 August are cancelled.