Become a static detective as you uncover sources of energy with a glowing neon light. Just scrape your feet across the floor and watch the neon light flicker. It's a human powered light that is both safe and inexpensive.
While using the Static Powered Neon Lights, you'll generate some high voltage static electricity and pass a current through the neon gas contained in the bulbs. When the gas becomes excited by the presence of electricity, it will produce an orange glow!
The Static Powered Neon Lights work best in drier climates. Humidity helps to prevent static electricity from forming, so you might have work a little harder to build up a charge if you are in a high humidity area. Recommended for children ages 8 and up.
30 Static Powered Neon Lights
- .5" bulbs
- 1" exposed wire leads
- Activity Guide
How Does It Work?
The secret behind these glowing lights is a tiny amount of neon, an inert gas. Inert gases (like neon, argon, or helium) almost never form stable molecules with other atoms. That means these gases don’t behave like atoms of carbon or oxygen that can be found in all sorts of molecules like carbon dioxide (CO2) or even water (H2O). This special property of inert gases makes them perfect for gas discharge lights like the Static Powered Neon Lights.
What Does It Teach?
You might want to consider making this a discovery session. Tell the kids that static electricity is generated by friction (things rubbing together). Talk about scraping your feet on a carpet and producing sparks when you touch something else like metal or another person. Discuss the crackling sound that static electricity produces when you brush your hair, or when you rub a balloon against your hair. Contrast the subtle sound created by these man-made static sparks with the sound produced by lightning (another form of static discharge produced by friction in the atmosphere).
Now, give each of your students one of the neon lights and tell them that the light is supposed to flash when it detects a static spark. Allow the kids a few minutes to experiment on their own. See if anybody discovers how to make the lamp flash. If there are no successes after 3 to 5 minutes, give them some clues about how to hold the lamp (see presentation tips) for best results, and let them try again.
Things through which electricity flows very easily are called “conductors,” and things that block the flow of electricity are called “insulators.” The bare wires are good conductors, but if you cover them with an insulator, the sparks will be harder to produce. Many non-metal things will work well as an insulator. Try materials such as tape, paper straws, a rubber eraser, and etcetera.
- Be careful! Review by Jerusha
My students were able to get these to work, but by the end of my 2nd class, 2 had broken(the glass) and one was already broken during the shipping process. The kids LOVED them though...
I am worried the copper wires won't last all day either.
I am giving it 3 stars because they are so delicate and break easily...but they worked REALLY well to show static electricity transferring to light! The kids LOVED figuring out ways to make the lights blink! (Posted on 5/31/13)
- Great Static Electricity Demo Review by Elizabeth Richards
Our 2nd grade students love this product. We use it during our electricity unit. We have had no broken bulbs and no problems. We set chairs around the rug area of our classroom and had the students walk in line around the carpet and then they all stop in front of a chair and lightly touch the wire to the metal part of the chair. Lots of WOWs! (Posted on 5/31/13)
- Static powered neon lights Review by Colonel Robert Guy
These little lights are powered by static charge and flash when a charge reaches them. I use them in a static electricty activity that middle school kids just love! It's called Electrophorus and can be found at this link :
M:1. Academic stuff (P)physical science 2010-113. energywebsitesElectrophorus.mht
This is one they will remember! (Posted on 5/31/13)
- Not the brightest bulb in the box Review by Zarah
These were somewhat cool - they really do light up when you rub your feet on carpet then touch metal or another person. I just wish they were brighter. (Posted on 5/31/13)
- Didn't Work Review by Heather
As a teacher I order a lot of products from Steve Spangler, and they are usually awesome! Unfortunately, I could not get these to work after many attempts and in the right conditions (clear day, room that was not too humid).
Heather-(Posted on 5/31/13)
We are extremely sorry to hear about the problem you had with the Static Powered Neon Lights. You will be hearing from our Customer Service Team very soon to try and work something out with you.
- Steve Spangler Science Web Team