Totally Hair Raising


Wow, I just rubbed the balloon on my hair and it is sticking to the balloon.  My hair is all spikey.


Wairakei Primary School has an inquiry called Phunky Physics and Room 6 have been investigating different types of energy that is used in everyday lives. Energy is how things change and move. There are different types of energy like potential energy, kinetic energy, light energy, electrical energy, and even solar energy.

One type of energy investigated by Room 6 was static electricity, which is potential energy that is stored when electrons move from one object to another.  


Our Investigation

To investigate how static electricity works, an object was used that could build-up a large charge, such as a balloon.  Not only was it fun, it was an object that helped show physical signs of static electricity.  



When rubbing a balloon on the top of a head the electrons are transferred from the hair to the balloon causing the hair to have a positive charge and the balloon a negative charge.  Particles with opposite charges are attracted to each other, so the hair sticks to the balloon.  


The balloon was sticking to my hair because I have lots of hair and I didn’t even have to hold the balloon.




Room 6  wanted to see if the balloons would stick to another surface other than hair and found that the balloon does stick to another surface such as under the table or up on the ceiling.  



The balloon was up on the ceiling and it stayed there when I rubbed it on my hair.


What we found?

Through the investigation, the students found the balloon was not fully charged and it would only stick to another surface where it had been electrically charged from rubbing on hair.  

Our next step

It was such an exciting investigation and the class would like to try using different balloon sizes. Their questions include, “ If we blow a balloon up to a larger size, or a balloon that is blown to a smaller size, would the investigation work the same?”  “Or, would the larger balloon have a better electrical charge to stick to our hair or another surface?”

Keywords:  static electricity, investigation, electrons, surface

Curriculum links: 

Physical World 

Investigating in Science

Hair raising photo 11