Static Electricity: Charging Up Two-by-Four Teachingby: Thomas O'Brien

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Static electricity is created when two different insulating materials are rubbed together, creating friction that allows electrons to shift from one material to the other. In this activity, a 6-8 ft., 2 in. x 4 in. board balanced on a large watch glass rotates toward a balloon that has been electrically charged by being rubbed against the instructor’s hair. This activity works as an “edu-taining” discrepant introduction to a unit on static electricity. Teachers should not attempt to prematurely “Explain” the phenomenon, but rather use the discrepant-event demonstration to create a need-to-know. This will challenge the students to raise specific questions about static electricity that they would like to “Explore.”

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