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Static Electricity

In this worksheet, students will learn about static electricity, electric fields and how charges separate and electrons transfer when objects are rubbed together.

'Static Electricity' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Physics: Electricity and Electromagnetism

Curriculum subtopic:  Static Electricity

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

This is a picture of lightning. During a storm areas of positive and negative charges separate, with positive charges moving up and negative charges moving down. Once they have separated significantly, they seek to neutralise by reaching each other. Once a pathway is available, a spark forms and the charges neutralise.

 

Lightning

 

What is static electricity?

 

Imagine you cut a cake in small pieces and then you take one of the pieces and keep cutting until you cannot see it with your eyes any more and you need a microscope. At some point, the small piece cannot be separated any more. This is an atom (see diagram). All materials around us are made of atoms and different combinations of them.

 

Atom

 

In the diagram above, the dot in the centre is the nucleus of the atom. The nucleus is made of protons with a positive charge and neutrons with no charge. The other dots around the nucleus are called electrons and have a negative charge. Protons and neutrons are held tightly together with strong bonds, whereas electrons orbit the nucleus and the outer ones are held loosely around the nucleus and can move to other atoms to form bonds. The atom itself has no overall charge.

 

A common way to move electrons from one place to another is to rub materials together. Some materials hold their electrons very tightly, so they cannot move easily and neither can electricity flow through them. These materials are called insulators. Some examples are plastic, cloth and glass. The more two insulators are rubbed together, the more electrons are transferred between them. Static electricity is the imbalance of positive and negative charges.

 

How does static electricity cause the boy's hair to stand up like this?

 

Static electricity causing hair to stand up

 

When we wear a hat and take it off, it rubs against our hair. Electrons move from the hair to the hat and now each hair has a positive charge. Opposites attract, but same charges repel, so each hair pulls as far as possible away from the others.

 

An electric field describes the area near any electrically-charged object. The diagram shows an electric field around a negative and a positive charge.

Electric fields

 

Scientists have agreed to show the action inside an electric field with respect to a positive charge. In our diagram, when the charge in the centre is positive, other positive charges would repel (shown by outward pointing arrows), whereas when there is a negative charge in the centre, positive charges would be attracted (shown by inward pointing arrows).

Before lightning forms, charges move up and down in order to separate. Which charges move upwards?

positive

negative

After a significant degree of separation between charges has been achieved, they seek to meet again. Why do positive and negative charges seek to meet after they have been separated?

Charges seek an exit from the sky.

Charges seek to neutralise each other.

Charges seek to form lightning and thunder.

What do we call the smallest piece of a material that cannot be separated any more?

Is this statement true or false?

Atoms cannot be seen with the naked eye.

true

false

What is the simplest way to move electrons from one material to another?

Rub them against each other.

Physically move electrons from one material to another.

Heat them up and let electrons flow between them.

What do we call materials that hold their electrons very tightly and do not let electricity flow through them?

conductors

insulators

What is static electricity?

The balance between positive and negative charges.

The imbalance between positive and negative charges.

Why does hair sometimes stand up when we take our hat off?

Electrons move from the hair to the hat and each hair has a positive charge; they then repel each other.

Electrons move from the hat to the hair and each hair has a positive charge; they then repel each other.

What is an electric field?

The area around an electrically-charged object.

The area inside an electrically-charged object.

A positively-charged material is in the centre of an electric field. What direction would the arrows around the electric field point to?

inwards

outwards

  • Question 1

Before lightning forms, charges move up and down in order to separate. Which charges move upwards?

CORRECT ANSWER
positive
EDDIE SAYS
Before lightning, positive charges move up and negative charges move down.
  • Question 2

After a significant degree of separation between charges has been achieved, they seek to meet again. Why do positive and negative charges seek to meet after they have been separated?

CORRECT ANSWER
Charges seek to neutralise each other.
EDDIE SAYS
After positive and negative charges have separated significantly, they seek to neutralise each other by meeting up again.
  • Question 3

What do we call the smallest piece of a material that cannot be separated any more?

CORRECT ANSWER
atom
EDDIE SAYS
The smallest piece of a material that cannot be separated any more is called an 'atom'.
  • Question 4

Is this statement true or false?

Atoms cannot be seen with the naked eye.

CORRECT ANSWER
true
EDDIE SAYS
The statement is true; you can only see atoms under a microscope with strong magnification. You cannot see it just with your eyes.
  • Question 5

What is the simplest way to move electrons from one material to another?

CORRECT ANSWER
Rub them against each other.
EDDIE SAYS
The simplest way to move electrons from one material to another is to rub the two materials against each other.
  • Question 6

What do we call materials that hold their electrons very tightly and do not let electricity flow through them?

CORRECT ANSWER
insulators
EDDIE SAYS
Insulators hold their electrons very tightly and do not let electricity flow through them.
  • Question 7

What is static electricity?

CORRECT ANSWER
The imbalance between positive and negative charges.
EDDIE SAYS
Static electricity is created when there is an imbalance between positive and negative charges.
  • Question 8

Why does hair sometimes stand up when we take our hat off?

CORRECT ANSWER
Electrons move from the hair to the hat and each hair has a positive charge; they then repel each other.
EDDIE SAYS
Electrons move from the hair to the hat when we take the hat off and each hair has a positive charge; they then repel each other.
  • Question 9

What is an electric field?

CORRECT ANSWER
The area around an electrically-charged object.
EDDIE SAYS
The area around an electrically-charged object is called an 'electric field'. In an electric field, materials can be attracted or repelled by each other, depending on their charge.
  • Question 10

A positively-charged material is in the centre of an electric field. What direction would the arrows around the electric field point to?

CORRECT ANSWER
outwards
EDDIE SAYS
The arrows would point outwards, because, by convention, it was agreed that the direction of an electric field would be shown in reference to positive charges. If there is a positively-charged object in the centre, the positive charges around it would be repelled, so the arrows point outwards.
---- OR ----

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