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published by the Physics Education Technology Project
This animation gives a schematic picture of charges in materials. The user can create a separation of charge by rubbing insulators. The interactions between different combinations of charged and uncharged objects are illustrated, including the polarization of insulators. There are different options for displaying the charge on objects. Example lesson plans and translations of the simulation are available.

This item is part of a larger collection of simulations developed by the Physics Education Technology project (PhET). The simulations are animated, interactive, and game-like environments.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electrostatics
= Charge
= Conductors and Insulators
- Middle School
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- application/java
  • Currently 0.0/5

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Additional Information
Physics Front This resource was featured by the Physics Front collection from January 29, 2007 until February 28, 2007. View the feature here!

Access Rights: Free access
Restriction: © 2005 University of Colorado at Boulder.
Additional information is available.
Merlot: pending
Keywords: electric charge, electrostatics, static electricity
Record Cloner: Metadata instance created October 6, 2006 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated: Jan 23, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
March 3, 2006
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 9-12: 4D/H1. Atoms are made of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The nucleus is a tiny fraction of the volume of an atom but makes up almost all of its mass. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons which have roughly the same mass but differ in that protons are positively charged while neutrons have no electric charge.
  • 9-12: 4D/H2. The number of protons in the nucleus determines what an atom's electron configuration can be and so defines the element. An atom's electron configuration, particularly the outermost electrons, determines how the atom can interact with other atoms. Atoms form bonds to other atoms by transferring or sharing electrons.
4G. Forces of Nature
  • 6-8: 4G/M5. A charged object can be charged in one of two ways, which we call either positively charged or negatively charged. Two objects that are charged in the same manner exert a force of repulsion on each other, while oppositely charged objects exert a force of attraction on each other.
  • 9-12: 4G/H3. Most materials have equal numbers of protons and electrons and are therefore electrically neutral. In most cases, a material acquires a negative charge by gaining electrons and acquires a positive charge by losing electrons. Even a tiny imbalance in the number of protons and electrons in an object can produce noticeable electric forces on other objects.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(Physics Education Technology Project, Boulder, 2005), WWW Document, (
PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity, (Physics Education Technology Project, Boulder, 2005), <>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity. (2006, March 3). Retrieved October 21, 2014, from Physics Education Technology Project:
Chicago Format
Physics Education Technology Project. PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity. Boulder: Physics Education Technology Project, March 3, 2006. (accessed 21 October 2014).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity. Boulder: Physics Education Technology Project, 2005. 3 Mar. 2006. 21 Oct. 2014 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity}, Publisher = {Physics Education Technology Project}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {21 October 2014}, Month = {March 3, 2006}, Year = {2005} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity
%D March 3, 2006
%I Physics Education Technology Project
%C Boulder
%O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D March 3, 2006
%T PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity
%I Physics Education Technology Project
%V 2014
%N 21 October 2014
%8 March 3, 2006
%9 application/java

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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