Activity Introduction

snappy-science-heroQuick summary: Students race soft drink cans with using static electricity to move the cans across a table.

mod logoThese Snappy Science resources have been created to boost science education in primary schools across Australia. Each lesson is designed to support teachers with the scientific knowledge, ideas and resources to stimulate a sense of wonder and curiosity in their students. Many of the big issues that Australian society will face in the future are around technology, energy, resources and climate change. All of these require students to engage with science – but most of all to enjoy science!

Science at Home: These Snappy Science resources can also be used to engage families in fun science and learning for life. You can download a student friendly version of this activity here and you can also check out the Snappy Science Digital Library.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Australian Curriculum content description: This activity is relevant to Science Inquiry Skills across all primary year levels of the Australian Curriculum.

Year 2 Science

  • A push or a pull affects how an object moves or changes shape (ACSSU033)

Year 6 Science

  • Electrical circuits provide a means of transferring and transforming electricity (ACSSU097)
  • Energy from a variety of sources can be used to generate electricity (ACSSU219)

Syllabus OutcomesST1-7PW, ST3-6PW.

Time required: 5-10 minutes.

Resources required: Several empty soft drink cans, inflated balloon, table, your hair!

Safety advice: None.

Keywords: Hair, soft drink cans, static electricity.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

snappy-science-heroBrief summary:

Students race soft drink cans with using static electricity to move the cans across a table.

Students can use the Predict, Observe, Explain table on the Student Worksheet to describe and reflect upon this experiment.

You will need:

  • Several empty soft drink cans
  • Inflated balloon
  • Table
  • Your hair!

What to do:

Step 1. Place the can on its side on a table.

Step 2. Take the balloon and rub it against your hair in a fast motion.

Step 3. Bring the balloon close to the can but don’t let it touch the can. The can will begin to roll towards the balloon on its own.

Step 4. Ask students to repeat the activity and hold a race between cans.

How does it work?

By rubbing the balloon through your hair, you create an electric charge that builds up on the surface of the balloon. This is called static electricity (non-moving electricity). Static electricity contains electrons, which have the power to pull small light objects towards it like soft drink cans.

Take it further...

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Student Worksheet

In this experiment you will be using your hair to race soft drink cans.


Explain what you think will happen:


Explain what happened:


Explain why you think this happened:

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