Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students light up the room by rubbing a balloon on their hair and using the static energy to light up a light bulb.

These 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 1 Science

  • Light and sound are produced by a range of sources and can be sensed (ACSSU020)

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 OutcomesST1-6PW, ST3-6PW.

Time required: 5-10 minutes.

Resources required: Dark room, fluorescent light bulb (energy saving bulb or tube), balloon, full head of hair.

Safety advice: Depending on student age and ability, students may need assistance handling light bulbs.

Keywords: Hair, lightbulb, 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

Brief summary:

Students light up the room by rubbing a balloon on their hair and using the static energy to light up a light bulb.

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

You will need:

  • Dark room
  • Fluorescent light bulb (energy saving bulb or tube)
  • Balloon
  • Full head of hair

What to do:

Step 1. Blow up a balloon and tie off the end.

Step 2. Rub the balloon vigorously against the hair on your head.

Step 3. Go into a dark room.

Step 4. Touch the balloon against the two metal electrode prongs on the bottom of the fluorescent light bulb.

Step 5. Watch what happens when the static electricity discharges from the surface of the balloon into the fluorescent light bulb.

Step 6. Repeat rubbing the balloon to add more static electricity to the surface of the balloon. If careful, the balloon can be held against the light bulb as it is rubbed against hair. As the balloon surface builds up enough

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Student Worksheet

In this experiment you will using your hair to make electricity.


Explain what you think will happen:


Explain what happened:


Explain why you think this happened:

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