Hair standing experience: how static electricity works



Before understanding static electricity, we first need to understand the basics of atoms and magnetism.

All physical objects are made up of atoms. Inside an atom are protons, electrons and neutrons. The protons are positively charged, the electrons are negatively charged, and the neutrons are neutral.

Therefore, all things are made up of charges. Opposite charges attract each other (negative to positive). Like charges repel each other (positive to positive or negative to negative). Most of the time positive and negative charges are balanced in an object, which makes that object neutral.

Static electricity is the result of an imbalance between negative and positive charges in an object. These charges can build up on the surface of an object until they find a way to be released or discharged.

In this photo, when Alliah touches the ball with static electricity inside it, it sends a static charge through her body and into each strand of hairs. Because each strand has the same charge, the strands push away from each other, so her hair stands up.

By the way, the machine was called Van de Graaff an electrostatic generator  invented by American physicist Robert J. Van de Graaff in 1929. This machine was exhibited by the Philippine Science Centrum during the National Science and Technology Week of the Department of Science and Technology

Want to try this? Visit science centrum museum at Riverbanks, Barangka, Marikina City.