In this super cool science experiment we will explore the principles of static electricity, electrostatic
charges, and induction. We will learn about electron transfer, repulsion of like charges and how
opposite charges attract. We will witness graphite balls do amazing things as they jumps, dance,
and stick.

Materials For Electrostatic Box:

  • Wood Box
  • Polycarbonate Lid for Box
  • Graphite Coated Pith Balls
  • Piece of Rabbit Fur

Watch The Electrostatic Box Video:

Process for Electrostatic Box:

1) IRemove the polycarbonate box top.

2) Dump the graphite coated pith balls into the wooden box

3) Replace the polycarbonate box top.

4) Use the rabbit fur to vigorously rub the polycarbonate box top.

5) Watch in amazement as graphite coated pith balls jump, dance, levitate and finally stick to the
polycarbonate box top.

6) Move your finger close to the graphite coated pith balls without touching the polycarbonate top.
Watch them shoot and move out of the way.

7) Touch the polycarbonate top above one of the pith balls and it will drop the bottom of the wooden

The Science Behind Electrostatic Box

Everything that surrounds us is comprised or made from atoms. Elements only have one type of
atom. For example (H) Hydrogen only contains hydrogen atoms. Atoms are composed of very
small particles know as subatomic particles. Subatomic particles are protons, neutrons, and
electrons. The neutrons and protons are in the middle or center of the atom called the nucleus.
Neutrons have a negative charge (-) while protons have a positive charge (+). Neutrons do not
have any charge and are neutral.

The middle or center of the atom (nucleus) is surrounded by layers of electrons. These electrons
exists at varying energy levels. When electrons move around the nucleus of an atom energy is
released. The particles within an atom are either pulled (attracted) or repelled to each other.
Opposite particles attract and like particles repel each other. For example, and electron that is
negatively charged (-) attracts a proton that has a positive charge(+). On the other hand particles
with the same charge are repelled (repulsion). The example here would be two negatively charged
electrons would repel each other and move away.

In the case of the electrostatic box all the materials start out with a neutral charge (no charge on
the polycarbonate box top, wood box, graphite pith balls or rabbit fur). As we rub the rabbit fur over
the polycarbonate box top we are generating and releasing static electricity. Electron transfer
occurs and electrons move from the fur to the polycarbonate box top. The box top is now negatively
charged because the fur lost electrons and gave them (transferred) to the box top.

The negative charges now on the box top repel the negative charges inside the graphite pith balls
and push them away. This leaves the positive charges(+) in the graphite pith balls closest to the
negatively charged polycarbonate top (-). Since opposites attract, they are drawn in an attracted to
each other. This process is called induction.    
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