Static Electricity Investigations with a Van de Graaff

Supporting document included
This is an additional download that supports the video.
How much use does your Van de Graaff get? This activity will help your students learn to use it and understand the concepts behind it. The Van de Graaff is a super way to introduce a start to either electrostatics or circuit electricity. If a study of static electricity is in your future, consider starting here!

The video has two parts, the first is directed towards the learner and shows the experiment being performed. In the second section, Teacher to Teacher, I discuss some background info as well as hints and helps. Written instructions are designed to go straight into students hands so you can literally print and go— writing prompts help focus student writing and lab sheets are available for students who need more structure and support. 

Answer Keys and Teacher Notes are there to address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do outside research unless you want to. The video and the written materials are intended to support each other, but each is designed to work independently—if it’s easier to use the video, do that… if you prefer to skim a written instruction and get started more quickly, do that—if you prefer to use both, do that. It’s completely up to you.
Concepts Addressed
• Static charges develop well on smooth spheres but tend to leak off of pointed, rough surfaces
• Van de Graaff machines develop static charges.
Static charges can be made visible using common materials.

Materials Needed
Van de Graaff machine, foil, rubber bands, string

Answer Key
Extensive teacher notes address the many questions that come up. You shouldn’t have to do outside research on this topic unless you want to.
Time Required
This lab takes about 40 mins.
Student Sheets
• Scaffolded writing prompts & lab reporting
Connect with me…
Click here to visit my website to find out about teaching ideas and resources.
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