Don’t Miss Your Best Chance to Study Electrostatics

By Christy McGuire, ThrivingSTEM.com

For those of us who live in the United States it is winter time right now.  Most people think about snow as the main scientific aspect of winter.  Some may even think about the increase in darkness.  However, for most of us, winter also means your best chance to do electrostatics and have your demonstration actually work.

StudyElectrostaticsSquare-McGuire

Electrostatics are all those cool demonstrations where you remove the electrons from one object and then the other object wants to stick to it. You can then send the electrons back, creating mini-lightning. Electrostatics are also responsible for the phenomenon of hat hair.

I am sure some of you know the joke about biology stinking,  chemistry exploding, and physics failing.  Electrostatic experiments are super cool, but they can also be particularly prone to failure.  The main culprit is usually extra humidity.  Extra water molecules hanging around will ruin your experiment because those polar water molecules attract extra electrons to hang out with them instead of going to the object of your choice.  That means that the potential difference that should have been created by the electron imbalance may be too small to do anything impressive in your demonstration.

The amount of water that the air can carry decreases with temperature.  Colder air, is often dryer than it would be if it were warm.  Hot air can also be dry, but cold air has to be dry. That’s why your electrostatic experiments will be at their best now, in the winter.  Of course, if you live in Florida, that may be a bit different, but at least it will not be raining every day, so I would still pull out your toys and give them a try if I were you!

Ready but not sure quite what to do?

Here are some ideas.  You will notice that Van der Graaf generators are conspicuously missing. I do not have access to one right now, but if you do and you have a great post about, please link it up in the comments. Most of these are ideas are simple enough that you could have each student do their own.  You could then assign each student to teach a family member how the demonstration works and why.

Ideas for electrostatic demonstrations

Attraction

Steve Spangler uses a charge of static electricity to make objects float with Floating Static Bands.

The Rebecca at the Kids Activities Blog lists four different demonstrations that can be done with balloons.

You could add some fun with paper frogs like they did at Science Sparks or a Snake, Kids Activities Blog.

Schooling a Monkey recommends using a comb. 

This electroscope from education.com could be calibrated to allow your students to do some experimentation and numerical analysis.

I think this butterfly from I Heart Crafty Things is my favorite though!

Electrostatic Discharge (AKA “lightning”)

This demonstration from Raising Life Long Learners is really simple to prepare.

Learn Play Imagine has another demonstration that would probably be pretty impressive and save you the need to find a dark room, or to take your class into one.

 

Happy Experimenting!

Christy McGuire is a trained physics teacher who loves developing new ways for students to engage with science.  While taking a break from the high school classroom, Christy rediscovered that young children are tons of fun, and can learn powerful science and math too.  Now she is attempting to cross the excitement of early childhood style learning with serious STEM study to benefit students on both ends of the learning process.    Find activities and reflections on STEM learning on her blog: www.ThrivingSTEM.com.

Spangler Science Has Awesome Pinterest Boards!

Do you need ideas for the science fair?  Spangler Science has a board for that!

Find great ideas for your science fair project!
Find great ideas for your science fair project!

Are you looking for specific grade levels for activities for your students or your own kids?  Spangler Science has a board for every grade level, from kindergarten through high school!  And of course, science doesn’t really have an age limit, so be sure to browse all our grade level boards!

This is your brain, before and after a brisk walk!
This is your brain, before and after a brisk walk!

Did you know that your kitchen is a science laboratory?  Cooks are using chemistry every day in there!

Those eggs change when heat is applied.  That's science!
Those eggs change when heat is applied. That’s science!

Spangler Science has a Pinterest board for holidays.  Spangler Science has a Pinterest board for math, and literature, and art, and history.  Whatever you are looking for, you will probably find on a Spangler Science Pinterest board!

Hey, we even have a Pinterest board for creative school lunches!

What kid wouldn't love to find this in his/her lunchbox?
What kid wouldn’t love to find this in his/her lunchbox?

The point here is that Spangler Science Pinterest boards cover pretty much anything you could possibly be seeking for your students and for your own children.  And for yourself – our stuff is pretty cool for any age!  We have much more than just science – we have EVERYTHING!

Come on over to the Spangler Science Pinterest Boards!  What are you waiting for?  Many of our boards are interactive, so what’s stopping you from sharing your own stuff with us?

Pinterest is a wonderful way for all of us – teachers, parents, scientists, EVERYONE – to share our ideas.

Our kids benefit greatly, and so do YOU.

 

 

Holiday Science: Long-Lasting Christmas Jelly Marbles Polymer

Our polymers are more than just awesome, great fun, beautiful, and educational, you know.  Our polymers are awesome, great fun, beautiful, educational, and long-lasting.

How long-lasting are they, you ask?  I really don’t know yet.  The polymers in this Christmas decoration are seven years old and still going strong.

Seven years old and still beautiful!
Seven years old and still beautiful!

What you see up there is a Christmas candy jar with about a tablespoon of Spangler Science’s Clear Jelly Marbles, about three drops of green food coloring, and a cup of plain tap water.  Don’t put the lid on the jar until the jelly marbles and water reach the top of the jar.  THEN put the lid on.  Once you put the lid on the jar, the marbles won’t grow any more because they need a little air to help them grow.  (Please notice that this jar has a lid that seals!  That’s important.)

It took these Jelly Marbles only a few hours to grow to the size I wanted them.  If I removed the jar’s lid and drained off the water, the polymer Jelly Marbles would shrink back down to the size of rock salt again, but they wouldn’t be “dead;” when I added water again, they would grow again.

Would they still be green?  Nope.  Not if I rinsed off the food coloring.  I could keep them their own clear, invisible-in-the-water selves, or I could drop in some red, or blue, or green again, or create my own colors by combining primary colors.  I could drop in an Easter egg color tablet. I could use a Spangler Science True Color Tablet.

True Color Fizzers

The point is, seven years ago I made a pretty and decorative Christmas decoration using some simple polymers – clear jelly marbles – some food coloring, and some water, and I’m still using that pretty and decorative Christmas decoration this Christmas.

At Spangler Science, you will find many products and ideas that you can use during almost any holiday time – simple ideas, simple projects, ideas you can use by yourself or with your family, even with young children.

 

 

 

Jane GoodwinJane Goodwin is a professor of expository writing at Ivy Tech Community College, a hands-on science teacher for College for Kids, a professional speaker and writer, and a social media liaison  for Steve Spangler Science.  She wanted to be a ballerina and an astronaut, but gravity got the better of her.

College Students & Screaming Balloons

I love to watch actual students doing actual experiments, and my college students and their screaming balloons turned an ordinary writing lab into a writing AND science lab!

Starting at the Stonegate Arts and Education Center in Bedford, Indiana, my Ivy Tech students and I ended our writing lab by discussing how writers sometimes have to describe something in an unusual way.  Mention was made of the South African vuvuzela of soccer World Cup infamy, and so my aspiring writers created this sound with balloons and hex nuts.

Melissa and Alisha with their screaming balloons!
Melissa and Alisha with their screaming balloons!
Kitch and his screaming balloon!
Kitch and his screaming balloon!

Incidentally, the Stonegate Arts & Education Center is an Ingress portal, in case you might be interested in that.  And I hope you are.

Stonegate Arts & Education Center in Bedford, Indiana - Ingress Portal!
Stonegate Arts & Education Center in Bedford, Indiana – Ingress Portal!

That was all on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday night my students at Ivy Tech at Springs Valley Learning Center in French Lick, Indiana had this same lesson.  Different town, different students, same concept.  Similar reactions.  Even the facial expressions were similar!

Pamela, Kendra, Raven, Chelsea, and Andre having fun with their Screaming Balloons in French Lick!
Pamela, Kendra, Raven, Chelsea, and Andre having fun with their Screaming Balloons in French Lick!

It’s not just little kids who love science, you know.  College students and adults love science, too!

Steve Spangler warned me to bring earplugs to class this past week.  I should have taken his advice!

 

 

Jane GoodwinJane Goodwin is a professor of expository writing at Ivy Tech Community College, a hands-on science teacher for College for Kids, a professional speaker and writer, and a social media liaison  for Steve Spangler Science.  She wanted to be a ballerina and an astronaut, but gravity got the better of her.

Spangler Science Club – Making Science Fun Every Month

It’s a big day around the Spangler Labs – we are shipping hundreds of our Spangler Science Club kits to our new members.

Spangler Science Club - The Science Kit of the Month Club for Kids

To those of you who have gifted or joined as a member, we welcome you with open arms to the first kit of the month club that not only delivers more than a dozen experiments to your door each month, but also provides the true science behind each activity.

Spangler Science Club - Packaging the Kit of the Month Club at the Spangler Labs
Spangler Science Club – Packaging the Kit of the Month Club at the Spangler Labs

Our Distribution Center was buzzing with the sounds of tape guns firing, labels sticking and postage stamping this morning. Our entire staff, including Steve himself, joined together to give a big Spangler send off to the boxes.

(Yes, we tend to get a little emotional when our baby goes off to bigger and better things outside of our offices.)

If you are one of the fortunate ones to be eagerly awaiting the arrival of your first kit, welcome it into your home with the same love that it received on the beginning of its journey.

If you are brand new to the Spangler Science Club option, we invite you to join us on a scientific journey every month.

Spangler Science Club - Some of the Staff Behind the Box
Here’s some of our staff behind the box that helped develop, create and package the Spangler Science Club.

INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCIENTISTS

With a subscription to Spangler Science Club, you’ll receive Steve Spangler’s amazing hands-on experiences that integrate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Perfect for children in grades kindergarten through 6th, each month’s box contains everything you’ll need to conduct more than a dozen activities, experiments and science challenges guaranteed to fill the room with ooohs & ahhhs! Just open the box and let the fun begin.

Steve is very excited to ship the first round of the official Spangler Science Club kits to hundreds of members
Steve is very excited to ship the first round of the official Spangler Science Club kits to hundreds of members.

All of the Spangler Science Club monthly experiences are built on the principle of children doing real science with the tools and resources needed to conduct experiments, participate in design challenges and explore real-world STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities.

ORDER BY DECEMBER 15th TO RECEIVE IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

  • Great as a one time gift or a monthly membership.
  • Members receive 10% off every order at SteveSpanglerScience.com while active in the club.
  • Conduct more than a dozen activities, experiments and design challenges
  • Learn the real science behind each amazing experiment
  • Great resource for parents, grandparents, teachers, child care professionals and science enthusiasts
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee – cancel your subscription at any time
A sample of some of the cool science activities and materials you will receive in your Spangler Science Club membership
A sample of some of the cool science activities and materials you will receive in your Spangler Science Club membership

If we’re going to make a difference and meet the challenge of 21st century learning, we need more than cute ideas and cookie-cutter activities to truly inspire the next generation of scientists. Your subscription to the Spangler Science Club is the first step in giving your child the opportunity to engage in science on a whole new level.