Making a simple toy out of a balloon and an aluminum can

How to make a toy using a balloon and a soda can

Now pre­sent­ing: a cool trick with a bal­loon and stat­ic elec­tric­i­ty!

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

  • Con­duct this ex­per­i­ment away from sen­si­tive elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances.
  • Do not per­form this ex­per­i­ment if you have a pace­mak­er.


  • in­flat­ed bal­loon;
  • alu­minum can.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Rub a bal­loon vig­or­ous­ly on your hair to gen­er­ate an elec­tric charge. Pull it away from your hair slow­ly and note that your hair is at­tract­ed to the bal­loon. Bring the charged bal­loon close to an emp­ty alu­minum can. It is im­por­tant that the bal­loon not touch the can for the du­ra­tion of the ex­per­i­ment.

Process de­scrip­tion

Fric­tion be­tween two ob­jects caus­es the trans­fer of elec­trons from one ob­ject to the oth­er. The item that do­nates elec­trons gains a pos­i­tive charge, while the item that ac­cepts elec­trons gains a neg­a­tive charge. In this in­stance, the bal­loon's sur­face ac­cepts some elec­trons and be­comes neg­a­tive­ly charged. This cre­ates an elec­tric field around the bal­loon. This field acts on the alu­minum can, caus­ing the can’s elec­trons to re­dis­tribute across its sur­face. The sur­face clos­est to the bal­loon be­comes pos­i­tive­ly charged, while the far side of the can be­comes neg­a­tive­ly charged. This re­sults in an at­trac­tive force that draws the can to the bal­loon. This phe­nom­e­non of charge re­dis­tri­bu­tion is called elec­tro­stat­ic in­duc­tion.