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This PhET simulation, now in HTML5, promotes understanding of charge transfer as users drag a virtual "John Travoltage" across a carpet to accumulate static electricity. What happens when his finger gets close to the metal door knob? The model was designed to help learners understand how excess charge can be "grounded" by touching a conductor.

Registered PhET users have additional access to teacher-created lessons, Power Point presentations, and student guides.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electrostatics
= Charge
= Conductors and Insulators
- High School
- Middle School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- text/html
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Access Rights:
Free access with registration
Access to the simulation is freely available to all, but only registered users may access supplementary lessons, student guides, and assessments. Registration is free.
© 2016 Physics Education Technology, University of Colorado
Additional information is available.
charge build-up, charge interaction, discharging, electric shock, electrostatics, polarization
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created December 27, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
December 27, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
November 30, 2016
Other Collections:

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Structure and Properties of Matter (PS1.A)
  • Each atom has a charged substructure consisting of a nucleus, which is made of protons and neutrons, surrounded by electrons. (9-12)
  • The structure and interactions of matter at the bulk scale are determined by electrical forces within and between atoms. (9-12)
Types of Interactions (PS2.B)
  • Attraction and repulsion between electric charges at the atomic scale explain the structure, properties, and transformations of matter, as well as the contact forces between material objects. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Patterns (K-12)
  • Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena. (9-12)
Cause and Effect (K-12)
  • Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Asking Questions and Defining Problems (K-12)
  • Asking questions and defining problems in grades 9–12 builds from grades K–8 experiences and progresses to formulating, refining, and evaluating empirically testable questions and design problems using models and simulations. (9-12)
    • Ask questions that arise from examining models or a theory to clarify relationships. (9-12)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model to provide mechanistic accounts of phenomena. (9-12)

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.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 9-12: 11B/H1a. A mathematical model uses rules and relationships to describe and predict objects and events in the real world.
11D. Scale
  • 6-8: 11D/M3. Natural phenomena often involve sizes, durations, and speeds that are extremely small or extremely large. These phenomena may be difficult to appreciate because they involve magnitudes far outside human experience.
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
PhET, (2016), WWW Document, (
PhET, PhET Simulation: John Travoltage, (2016), <>.
APA Format
PhET. (2016, November 30). PhET Simulation: John Travoltage. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: John Travoltage. November 30, 2016. (accessed 26 May 2022).
MLA Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: John Travoltage. 2016. 30 Nov. 2016. 26 May 2022 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "PhET", Title = {PhET Simulation: John Travoltage}, Volume = {2022}, Number = {26 May 2022}, Month = {November 30, 2016}, Year = {2016} }
Refer Export Format

%Q PhET %T PhET Simulation: John Travoltage %D November 30, 2016 %U %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A PhET, %D November 30, 2016 %T PhET Simulation: John Travoltage %V 2022 %N 26 May 2022 %8 November 30, 2016 %9 text/html %U

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.

PhET Simulation: John Travoltage:

Same topic as PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity

This PhET simulation could be combined well with the "John Travoltage" model to introduce electrostatics in more depth.

relation by Caroline Hall

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