DIY electrostatic powered boat
Steer your boat easily!
Warning! Only under adult supervision.
- colored paper;
- large container with water.
Fold a piece of paper into a boat and set it in some water. Rub a balloon on your hair and bring it to the boat – the boat follows the balloon!
Everything around us is ultimately made of atoms, and their composition includes charged particles: protons and electrons. Protons are positively charged, while electrons are negatively charged. Normally, they compensate for each other, resulting in an object with a neutral charge. When two objects are rubbed together, the surface layer of atoms of one object can give some of its electrons to the other. Consequently, the object that donates its electrons becomes positively charged, and the one that accepts electrons gains a net negative charge. When you rub the balloon on your hair, its surface acquires some electrons and it gains a negative charge. An electric field appears around it, which can affect the charges in other objects. Like charges repel one another, and opposite charges attract each other. For example, you can use a balloon to attract a paper boat. The electrons on the balloon repel the electrons in the boat and attract the protons. As a result, the ship's protons are displaced towards the balloon, and its electrons are displaced away from it. The closer the charges are, the stronger they interact. Therefore, the net force turns out to be the force of attraction, and the boat follows the balloon.
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