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Topic – Stick It

Read the Following Selection

Read the following selection, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

Stick It

Have you ever rubbed a balloon with a piece of wool, then put it on a wall? What happens? The balloon sticks to the wall. You probably know that the balloon sticks because of static electricity. But do you know how static electricity works?

The Atom

To understand static electricity, you need to know about the atom. Atoms make up matter. Matter includes everything in our world, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. Even our bodies are matter. Matter is anything that takes up space and has mass. (Mass is how much of something there is.) If you could take a look inside an atom, you would see three things: protons, electrons, and neutrons. The protons and neutrons make up the nucleus of the atom. The electrons move around outside the nucleus.

You can see that an electron has a minus sign and a proton has a plus sign. This is because the electron has a negative electrical charge. The proton has a positive electrical charge. The neutron has no charge. When an atom has an equal number of protons and electrons, it has an equal number of positive and negative charges, so the charge of the entire atom is neutral. We can also say that the atom has no charge. So most matter has no electrical charge. This means most things in our world are neutral when it comes to electricity. But this can change.

Static Electricity

Static electricity happens when negative charges (electrons) are moved from one object to another. When you rub the balloon with the wool, you move electrons from the wool to the balloon. So now the wool has more protons and fewer electrons and has a positive charge. The balloon picks up these electrons, so now it has more electrons than protons and has a negative charge. You have created static electricity. The negatively charged balloon is attracted to positively charged areas of the wall. But the balloon does not stick to the wall for very long. Soon, the extra electrons on the balloon go into the air and the balloon is neutral again. It is no longer attracted to the wall.

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