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published by the PhET
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
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Free access
© 2005 University of Colorado at Boulder.
Additional information is available.
electric charge, electrostatics, static electricity
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 6, 2006 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
September 2, 2018 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.
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AIP Format
(PhET, Boulder, 2005), WWW Document, (
PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity (PhET, Boulder, 2005), <>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity. (2006, March 3). Retrieved May 24, 2024, from PhET:
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity. Boulder: PhET, March 3, 2006. (accessed 24 May 2024).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity. Boulder: PhET, 2005. 3 Mar. 2006. 24 May 2024 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {24 May 2024}, Month = {March 3, 2006}, Year = {2005} }
Refer Export Format

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

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D March 3, 2006 %T PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity %I PhET %V 2024 %N 24 May 2024 %8 March 3, 2006 %9 application/java %U

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PhET Simulation: Balloons and Static Electricity:

Contains PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Exploring Electric Charges

An inquiry-based student guide developed specifically for use with the Balloons and Static Electricity simulation. It gives explicit help in simulation set-up with guided inquiry for students as they explore interactively. Appropriate for middle school and 9th grade physical science.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is a Student Extra Of Physics Classroom: Polarization
Is a Teaching Guide For Physics Classroom: Polarization

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