University of Virginia
Physics Department

Balloon Electroscope

A Physical Science Activity

Student Activity




  1. Blow-up the balloons and tie thread to the ends of each balloon.
  2. Tie the balloons together.
  3. Hold the uncharged balloons by the thread and move balloons together. Record your observations and make a sketch.
  4. Rub each balloon with the wool. Move one balloon near the other but do not allow them to touch.
  5. While the balloons are repelling each other gently mist the balloons with water. Record you observations and make a sketch.


Data Sheet


  1. Why did the balloons repel each other after they were rubbed with the fur/wool?


  2. Why did the balloons fall back towards each other after they were sprayed with water?


  3. Are there other ways besides water that we could use to have the balloons come back together?


  4. During which time of the year would it be best to do experiments using static electricity?


  5. What effect does damp weather have on electrical charges?