Fun Fly Stick Experiment

Battery powered static electricity generator that makes objects fly!

The Fun Fly Stick is an ingenious, battery-operated static electricity generator that allows you to float tinsel shapes on a cloud of electrons. Press the button on the Fun Fly Stick for a few seconds to generate a static charge. Drop the tinsel shape onto the stick to quickly transfer the negative charge to the tinsel. Since like charges repel each other, the negatively charged tinsel shape floats above the negatively charged stick. The learning curve is about two minutes and you’re ready to amaze everyone with the Fun Fly Stick.

Experiment Materials

  • Fun Fly Stick
  • 5 tinsel shapes included with Fun Fly Stick
  • Piece of fur or wool sweater
  • Golf bag plastic tube - These flexible plastic tubes are available at sporting goods stores and are used to keep club shafts scratch-free and the golf bag more organized. These tubes are about a meter (3 ft) long.

Experiment

Tips and Tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks that we’ve learned from playing with the Fun Fly Stick…

  • Spend a few minutes with the accompanying tutorial in the Fun Fly Stick box. It’s well worth your investment of time.
  • The AA batteries go into the handle with the (+) end first. This detail is not explained well in the instructions. If the Fun Fly Stick doesn’t buzz when you press the button, the batteries are loaded backwards and need to be reversed.
  • The tinsel shapes are very, very delicate! Use extreme care with these shapes as they tear very easily. We strongly encourage an adult to help young children with handling these tinsel shapes. Store the tinsel in a heavy duty zipper-lock bag for safe keeping.
  • Remember the two second rule. As you’re learning how to float the tinsel shapes, remember that you don’t have to constantly press the button. Just press the button for a few seconds to build up a static charge. Pressing the button continuously both drains the batteries and lessens the effectiveness of the Fun Fly Stick.

How Does It Work?

When you press the button on the Fun Fly Stick for a few seconds a negative static charge is generated. When you drop the tinsel shape onto the stick, the negative charge is quickly transferred to the tinsel. Since like charges repel each other, the negatively charged tinsel shape floats above the negatively charged stick. If you want to impress someone with your newly acquired knowledge, just tell them that the Fun Fly Stick is a demonstration of “electrostatic propulsion and the repulsion of like charges.” Okay, if you really want to impress someone, just make the shapes float!

Additional Info

The Homemade Static Stick

This activity was originally developed by our good friend, Bruce Yeany, who uses it to teach the science of static electricity to his students.

Try It!
1. Rub the fur up and down on the tube to build up a negative static charge. Be careful not to touch the tube to anything or you’ll lose the static charge.
2. Hold the tube in one hand and pick up the tinsel in the other hand.
3. Hold the tinsel in the air and drop it onto the plastic tube. You don’t want to be touching the tinsel when it touches the tube or you’ll steal away the static charge.
4. If it worked correctly, you’ll immediately see the tinsel shape “puff up” and float above the tube. The static charge that you built up on the plastic tube will slowly dissipate, but it stays on the tube long enough to float the object for a minute or two.

How Does it Work?

Rubbing the fur against the plastic tube builds up a negative charge on the tube. Touching the tinsel to the tube transfers the negative charge to both objects. The tinsel floats above the wand because the like charges repel one another.