Bending Water Trick and 2 Amazing Science Experiments That You Can Do At Home by HooplakidzLab
How to Bend Water with Static Electricity
Static electricity does more than shock you when you go to open a door, or attract dust to your furniture and clothes. It can actually bend a stream of water. This is a good science demonstration for kids because it shows how an electrically charged object attracts some things with a neutral charge.
Run a nylon comb through dry hair.Take a dry nylon (plastic) comb and run it through your hair about 10 times. Your hair must be dry as well. When the comb moves through your hair, it picks up electrons—tiny particles with an electric charge.
- If you don't have a comb, find a plastic spoon or an inflated balloon instead. Rub the object quickly against your hair, or a piece of fur, wool, or carpet. The friction from rubbing the 2 materials together knocks electrons loose from one object and onto the other.
- Clean hair conducts more electricity than dirty (greasy) hair.
Turn on your faucet.Only let a very thin stream of water flow. It needs to be a smooth stream, not one that breaks up. The stream of water should be about inch (0.32 cm) wide.
Place the comb right next to the stream of water without touching it.If the comb (or spoon or balloon) picked up enough charge, the water will bend toward the comb as it falls.
Understand how this works.Electrical charges come in 2 types, positive and negative. Those electrons that ended up on your comb have a negative charge, while water molecules have a positive charge on 1 side and a negative charge on the other. Positive and negative charges pull each other closer together, so when the comb is close enough, the positive side of the water molecules get tugged in that direction.
- When the negatively charged comb comes near the water, it repels the electrons, so that the side of the water nearest the comb then has a positive charge. The attraction between this positive charge and the negatively charged comb results in a net force on the water, bending the stream.
Completing Extra Experiments
Experiment with different variables.Bend water again, but change the variables, one at a time. You can change the water temperature, the size of the comb, the material of the comb, and the amount of water coming out of the faucet. See how different variables affect the result of the experiment. Can you explain why?
- Does the temperature of the water affect how much it bends?
- Does a bigger object make the water bend more?
- Does the material that the object is made of affect its ability to bend water?
- How does the strength of the stream flow affect how much it bends?
Play with static electricity in other ways.Try rubbing an inflated balloon against your hair as fast as you can. Gently put the balloon against a bare patch of wall and let go. If the balloon picked up enough charge, it will stay there against the wall without falling.
- This works because the balloon weighs almost nothing, so gravity barely affects it. The electrical attraction between the balloon and the wall is strong enough to resist the pull of the whole world!
- You can also tear up tiny bits of paper and pick them up with the balloon.
Learn about grounding.When trying this experiment, you might have put down the comb, then discovered it can't bend water anymore after you pick it up again. Some objects (especially metal ones) can suck up all the extra electrons with a touch, so your comb loses its charge. This is called "grounding." Scientists and engineers use grounding on purpose to protect themselves from electric shocks. You can too:
- Wait until a dry day, when it hasn't rained in a while. Static electricity builds up much faster when there is almost no water in the air.
- Find an object that often gives you a shock. This might be a car after you've been sitting in it for a long time, a metal door handle, or a playground slide.
- Before touching the object, poke it with something metal like a coin, key, or metal pole (or, before getting out of the car, poke the metal frame). The electrons will quickly flow into the metal you're holding, then harmlessly into you. You can now touch the object without getting shocked.
- Sometimes, if a lot of electrons have built up, you can see a spark as they jump into the thing you're holding.
QuestionDoes the salinity of the water have any effect on how well it bends?
M.A. in Environmental Science and ManagementM.A. in Environmental Science and ManagementExpert AnswerThis is a great question. Try the experiment again using salt water instead of fresh water and see if there is a change.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I charge an object?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can charge an object by rubbing it against any piece of cloth, as it induces a charge in it, or you can charge a substance by passing electricity through it.Thanks!
QuestionWhy does a plastic comb work better than a metal comb at "bending" water?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt has to do with the number of electrons in the valence shells of the materials. Plastic has too few; metals have too many.Thanks!
QuestionWhy does the water bend because of static energy?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe water contains positive and negative charges, but those are not all in the same place, they are spread across the whole stream of water. So when you move a charged object towards the water, the object will attract the particles of one charge, and repulse particles of the other charge.Thanks!
QuestionWill a charged plastic pen have an effect on a small trickle of water?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, as water is neutral it does not attain any charge even if a charged particle or a substance is brought near it.Thanks!
How can we charge these electrodes in our fingertips?
Does the size of the comb that I use affect the static electricity?
- Static electricity is used in photocopiers. The document is recorded, and then a sheet of paper is "imprinted" with static electricity using that pattern. When toner is sprayed onto the paper, it only sticks to the areas with a negative charge.
- This will only work in dry conditions. Try to do this on a day with low humidity, and don't do it right after someone has taken a shower. When it's humid, everything gets coated in a thin film of water, which makes the transfer of electrons more difficult. The water molecules in that film (as well as in the air) capture electrons that would otherwise go to the object you're charging.
Video: Static Electricity and Water
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