ALEX Learning Activity

Jumping Paper?- Static Electricity

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Brian Sauls
System:Albertville City
School:Albertville Middle School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2350
Jumping Paper?- Static Electricity
Digital Tool/Resource:
Jumping Paper?
Web Address – URL:

This before activity can be used with a unit on forces, specifically electrical fields. The students will watch a demonstration by the teacher using a balloon and small pieces of paper. The teacher will tear small pieces of paper and place them in a loose pile so that the students may see. Have one student volunteer to come up to the front of the room and rub the balloon on his or her hair to collect electrons and make the balloon negatively charged. The students will make predictions, observations, and provide explanations during the demonstration on the jumping paper document. The teacher may choose to lead a class discussion and allow the students to make explanations for what they observed.

This activity was created as a result of the ALEX  Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
Physical Science
12 ) Construct an argument from evidence explaining that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other (e.g., interactions of magnets, electrically charged strips of tape, electrically charged pith balls, gravitational pull of the moon creating tides) even when the objects are not in contact.

Learning Objectives:

Students will describe how fields (static electricity) exist between objects even when the objects are not in contact.


  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

This learning activity will be a whole group demonstration. Either print or share the jumping paper? document with the students. The teacher will explain that the balloon will come in close contact with the small pieces of paper, but will not touch them. Have a student volunteer to come up so that they may assist with the charging of the balloon. Explain that their hair will get messy and that you will have to rub the balloon on their hair. Allow the students to make predictions before the demonstration, and then write their observations and make explanations after the demonstration. The teacher will then lead a class discussion on what happened and introduce several topics, including fields and non-contact forces. Possible discussion questions include:

What would happen if we didn't rub the balloon on someone's head?

What other materials could we use to charge the balloon? 

Does the amount of rubbing or "charging" of the balloon affect how much paper is picked up, how closely the balloon has to be to pick the paper up, or how quickly it is picked up?

Assessment Strategies:

Assess student understanding through class discussion and written answers on the jumping paper document. The teacher may use this to probe student understanding of the topic and guide future lessons.

Advanced Preparation:

The teacher will need to tear several small pieces of paper. The dots in a hole puncher are a perfect size and work well for this demonstration. Blow up the balloon, and make sure to have extras in case it pops. Either print or share the document with students.

Variation Tips (optional):

The teacher can vary the size of the balloon, the size of the paper pieces, and the material that is used to charge the balloon. The teacher can also use a balloon that isn't "charged" and allow the students to compare the two. The class could also test to see if the amount of time "charging" or rubbing the balloon affect the strength of the field.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

This will mess up the hair of the student that volunteers. Longer hair "charges" the balloon better. 

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: electric fields, forces, noncontact forces, Static electricity