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Static Electricity

Use experiments to teach science

How do electrons move during static electricity? What is the difference between induction and conduction? How do you use and explain a Van de Graaff generator? What is the triboelectric series? Lab activities dig into these questions and are great for classrooms or homeschool.

Are Your Students Engaged?

Are you looking for a way to engage kids in their science learning? Are you eager to see your students become scientists in your classroom?

That's the goal of this course...

Activity Highlights

Static electricity is really noticeable in the winter and then seems to disappear, but does it?


Walk through a series of activities to prove to yourself that like charges repel and unlike ones attract.

Being able to envision moving charges is very helpful for future studies of interactions between atoms and ions. In that way, the study of static electricity is a foundational study


Van de Graaf machines are super cool. A series of activities walks you through how to use one and understand what's going on.

Build your own electroscope without fancy equipment. It's great for helping to visualize the movement of charged particles.


What's Included in the Course/Unit?

    • Written instructions include:
    › Simple directions (written to students)
    › Questions and worksheets
    › Explanations for the teacher
    › Answer keys to help with assessing student work.
    › List of materials and setup hints.

    › Video instructions including:
    • A demonstration of the activity
    • Hints and strategies for preparing each lesson

    › Course platform with a forum for asking questions if you need further clarification or support.
Enroll in Course for $37

Concepts and Topics Addressed in this Unit:

    ✦ Charged items attract neutral ones.
    ✦ Electrons and protons create the charges behind electrostatic forces.
    ✦ Electrons are negatively charged; protons are positively charged
    ✦ Electrostatic charge can be stored
    ✦ Electrostatic fields are non-contact forces.
    ✦ Friction isn't the cause of static charge, rather it's the nature of the materials involved.
    ✦ Invisible charges can produce real forces.
    ✦ Items can be charged at a distance.
    ✦ Items develop different static charges depending what they are made of.
    ✦ Like charges repel.
    ✦ Static charges can be made visible using common materials.
    ✦ Static charges can cause objects to move.
    ✦ Static charges develop well on smooth spheres but tend to leak off of pointed, rough surfaces
    ✦ Static charges develop when unlike materials come in close contact.
    ✦ The closer a charged item is to an object, the greater the force it exerts.
    ✦ The electrostatic charge increases on a Leyden Jar as the charge is added
    ✦ The likelihood of a substance to gain or lose electrons depends on the nature of the material.
    ✦ The shock collected by a Leyden Jar depends upon its size and how much its charged.
    ✦ The turboelectric series ranks materials based on their tendency to give up or attract electrons.
    ✦ Typically only electrons leave their atoms.
    ✦ Unlike charges attract
    ✦ Van de Graaff machines develop static charges.
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​Invite students to become scientists in your classroom

As fellow scientists they need to learn to investigate, discover, measure, observe, examine...

And these skills take time and repetition.


But repeating stuff can be boring…

That’s where labs come in! 

Many of the labs are teaching the same fundamentals but use different materials to keep things interesting.


What if you don’t have time to research the science behind a concept?

I’ve got you covered... Sections in the written instructions and the videos should answer your questions. Here you’ll also find hints and helps for running an activity. Additionally, the Teacher Notes sections will give you plenty of background information. You won’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

What if your kids are at different levels?

Ah, differentiation! In my classroom everyone did the Core Labs—marked by Δ. These are the labs we talk about in our discussions and they provide the content for what we test. Extension Labs go deeper or broader—some are tangents, and some repeat the core concepts for kids who need that.

What if you don’t have time to introduce a lab?

No worries! if students work at at their own pace they can be independent and work through the instructions.The lab instructions are written directly to the students so you can just print and go.

When does the course start?

This course is a collection of lessons to use in your classroom. You can start as soon as you sign up!

Can I access these resources from my phone or tablet?

Sure! It works well on any device.​

Do I have to go in order?

Nope! You can use the lessons in any order—I always arrange them in a way I think makes sense, however since students in my classes worked at their own pace, they also tended to do the lessons in their preferred order. Within each section, the lessons progress from concrete to more abstract and from fundamental concepts to more tangential ones.

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for teachers to give them hands-on resources to teach middle school science.

Will this course work for homeschoolers?

I think so, though my background is classroom teaching. It’s not designed like a plug and play course. It’s a collection of activities that will help you teach the content.

What if I am unhappy with the course?

We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

How long do I have access to the course?

After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course - across any and all devices you own.

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Meet the author...

Hi, I'm Carolyn Balch, the author of Engaging Science Labs. I started my career as a high school physics teacher. Then I entered the field of museum education at the National Air and Space Museum (part of the Smithsonian Institution) where I wrote science education materials and ran teacher workshops. When my children were born, I left the workforce and when they were little, our family got involved with a school start up. My children grew and with them, the school; 


I volunteered on a weekly basis, running science experiments for my son's class and joined the faculty as the middle school science teacher when the seventh grade was added. Now I write full-time, working to publish the curriculum I developed while I was teaching. Each online course is a unit of study from a hands-on, laboratory-experience perspective.

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