the Physics Education Technology Project
This is a student guide created by the PhET team specifically for use with the simulation Balloons and Static Electricity. It gives step-by-step directions for simulation set-up and offers open-ended questions to help students explore the interactions between charged objects and charged/neutral objects. It is appropriate for middle school and 9th grade physical science courses.
Editor's Note: We suggest letting students play with this simulation prior to doing a static electricity experiment. Its design should help students build concepts in a way that helps prevent misconception about charge interaction.
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.
Metadata instance created
January 23, 2011
by Caroline Hall
November 25, 2011
by Caroline Hall
Last Update when Cataloged:
March 3, 2009
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
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/H2a. Electric forces acting within and between atoms are vastly stronger than the gravitational forces acting between the atoms. At larger scales, gravitational forces accumulate to produce a large and noticeable effect, whereas electric forces tend to cancel each other out.
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
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.
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (1993 Version)
4. THE PHYSICAL SETTING
D. The Structure of Matter
4D (9-12) #1. Atoms are made of a positive nucleus surrounded by negative electrons. 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.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: "Static" Electricity Unit Title: Electric Charge
This printable student guide was developed specifically for use with the PhET simulation "Balloons and Static Electricity". It gives explicit directions for set-up, plus open-ended questions to help kids explore charge interactions. See the item directly above for a link to the simulation, which must be open in a browser to complete this activity.
Kosztin, D. (2009, March 3). PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Exploring Electric Charges. Retrieved August 30, 2015, from Physics Education Technology Project: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3313
%0 Electronic Source %A Kosztin, Dorina %D March 3, 2009 %T PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Exploring Electric Charges %I Physics Education Technology Project %V 2015 %N 30 August 2015 %8 March 3, 2009 %9 text/html %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3313
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