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
1" exposed wire leads
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.