# Static Electricity and Electric Fields

In this worksheet, students will be given an introduction to static electricity in relation to electron transfer and electric fields.

### QUESTION 1 of 10

I was getting out of the car the other day after a long trip. When I touched the edge of the car door, I got an electric shock. It was shocking (get it...), but got me to thinking why this only happens to me. Not my mum, dad or brothers... Was the car picking on me, or was there some science that could explain this sudden uptake in electrical shocks...

Protons are fixed in the nucleus of an atom, but electrons are free to move from one material to another, like when you rub two insulating materials together. The accumulation of electrons in a material is called static electricity. Try rubbing a balloon on your jumper; then see how it sticks on the wall. This is because when you rub it, electrons from your jumper give the balloon a negative charge. This then repels the electrons on the wall and the positive charge left attracts the negative charge of the balloon. The diagram below shows how hair is attracted to the balloon due to static electricity.

Lightning is also caused by static electricity (see diagram). Lightning can injure people and damage buildings.

Static electricity can build up in aircrafts as they move through the air, and in tankers that deliver fuel to filling stations, so they need to be discharged appropriately. However, static electricity can also be useful in electrostatic spray painting.

Going back to the example of the balloon, the attraction between the balloon and the wall is due to the electric force, which occurs when the charged balloon is held some distance away from the wall. It is a non-contact force, which acts inside its electric field. There is a formula that shows the magnitude (size and strength) of an electric field:

electric field strength = force / charge

Match the atom particles with the correct charge.

## Column B

protons
negative
electrons
positive

Which particles are free to move between different materials?

What do we call the accumulation of electrons in a material?

Predict what will happen when you rub your hair with a balloon and then you place the balloon close to small pieces of paper.

Nothing will happen.

The pieces of paper will start flying around the balloon.

The pieces of paper will be attracted to the balloon and stick to it.

What happens when you rub your hair with the balloon?

Protons accumulate on the balloon.

Electrons accumulate on the balloon.

The balloon bursts.

Why are the pieces of paper attracted to the balloon?

Electrons on the balloon attract protons on the pieces of paper.

Protons on the balloon attract electrons on the pieces of paper.

Electrons on the balloon attract electrons on the pieces of paper.

Why is lightning created?

Positive and negative charges move away from each other.

Positive and negative charges move towards each other.

Tick two dangers of static electricity.

Accumulation in aircraft

Electrostatic spray painting

Sticking balloons to walls

Buildings damaged by lightning

Find the two correct words to complete the sentence.

The electric force acts inside its ________ _____.

How can you calculate the strength of an electric field?

Add the force to the charge.

Multiply the force by the charge.

Divide the force by the charge.

• Question 1

Match the atom particles with the correct charge.

## Column B

protons
positive
electrons
negative
EDDIE SAYS
Protons are positively charged and electrons carry a negative charge.
• Question 2

Which particles are free to move between different materials?

electrons
EDDIE SAYS
Protons are fixed to the nucleus of an atom, but electrons orbit the nucleus, so are free to move to different materials when they come in contact.
• Question 3

What do we call the accumulation of electrons in a material?

static electricity
EDDIE SAYS
The accumulation of electrons in a material is called static electricity. It is static because it is not moving.
• Question 4

Predict what will happen when you rub your hair with a balloon and then you place the balloon close to small pieces of paper.

The pieces of paper will be attracted to the balloon and stick to it.
EDDIE SAYS
The pieces of paper will be attracted to the balloon and stick to it due to static electricity. There is an opposite charge on the balloon and the paper and so they will be attracted to each other.
• Question 5

What happens when you rub your hair with the balloon?

Electrons accumulate on the balloon.
EDDIE SAYS
Electrons from your hair accumulate on the balloon. This gives them a negative charge and they try and get away from each other.
• Question 6

Why are the pieces of paper attracted to the balloon?

Electrons on the balloon attract protons on the pieces of paper.
EDDIE SAYS
Electrons on the balloon attract protons on the pieces of paper, so the paper 'sticks' to the balloon.
• Question 7

Why is lightning created?

Positive and negative charges move towards each other.
EDDIE SAYS
Positive and negative charges move towards each other. The charges, in this case, are massive and form a huge strike of electricity moving from static to actual electricity.
• Question 8

Tick two dangers of static electricity.

Accumulation in aircraft
Buildings damaged by lightning
EDDIE SAYS
Two dangers of static electricity are accumulation in aircraft, and buildings damaged by lightning. Lightning can also injure or kill people.
• Question 9

Find the two correct words to complete the sentence.

The electric force acts inside its ________ _____.

electric field
EDDIE SAYS
The electric force acts inside its electric field. The close it is to the charged object, the more force there is that acts.
• Question 10

How can you calculate the strength of an electric field?

Divide the force by the charge.
EDDIE SAYS
The electric field strength can be calculated by dividing the force by the charge.
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