- crispy rice cereal
- paper plate
- record album
- wool (A wool sweater will work great!)
- Make sure the record you are using is not important! I suggest picking one up from a thrift shop- they usually run for about $0.50
- Rub the record with wool. You can use a sweater or a scarf, anything made out of wool will do.
- Hold the record above some cereal. Make sure it is a light cereal, like Rice Crispies!
- See how the cereal stands on end and then jumps from the table and then back again? That's static electricity!
Why it Works
First of all, you need to understand that everything is made up of atoms. You're made of atoms; the record is made of atoms, even the cereal is made up of atoms. These atoms are made up of smaller particles; protons, neutrons, and electrons. Electrons have negative charges.
When the wool rubs the record, electrons from the wool stick to the record. This gives the record a negative charge. Negative charges don't like to be near other negative charges. In fact, when they come in contact with negative charges, they repel them. On the other hand, when they come in contact with positive charges, they attract to them and stick!
The negatively charged record will push away negative charges and pull positive charges close to it. As you hold the record above the cereal, it will pull the positive charges from the cereal up to the record. The cereal will stick to the record.
When the cereal touches the record, electrons on the record move to the cereal. Now the cereal has a negative charge. Since the record and the cereal both have a negative charge, and negative charges don't like to be near each other, they repel each other and the cereal jumps down from the record.
This will happen over and over again until the charges balance out and become neutral.
To make it start again, you need to rub the record with wool!