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Review Energy-7

I gave this balloon a negative electrostatic charge by rubbing it on my hair. Then I tore up bits of paper, and put them on the table. When I brought the balloon near them, they were attracted to the balloon. Why?

  1. The negative charge of the balloon induced a positive charge on the paper.

    Yes! The negative charge on the balloon pushes some of the negatively charged electrons in the paper to the far side, leaving the near side with a positive charge. Opposite charges attract, so the paper is attracted to the balloon.
  2. The negative charge of the balloon attracts the neutrally charged paper.

    No. As long as the paper is neutral, it will not be attracted or repelled.
  3. Tearing the paper gave it a positive charge.

    No. If the paper had a positive charge from being torn, the bits of paper with like charges would have repelled each other before you moved the balloon nearby.
  4. Paper is always attracted to balloons.

    No. This is easily tested by using a balloon that has not been rubbed on your hair. Without the positive charge, the paper is not attracted.

Click to see which state standards this question tests, and which of my videos, experiments, and other resources support that topic.


SC.5.P.10.3 Investigate and explain that an electrically-charged object can attract an uncharged object and can either attract or repel another charged object without any contact between the objects.

>>> Teacher Page: Electrostatic Charges

SC.6.P.13.1 Investigate and describe types of forces including contact forces and forces acting at a distance, such as electrical, magnetic, and gravitational.
Light a Bulb with a Balloon video, checked
Crushed Can video, checked
Electricity video, free, Updated
The Compass and Magnetic Fields video, ClosedCaptions, checked
Challenge: Paper, Coin, Cup, part 1 video
Making a Compass video, checked
Torque video
Versorium video, checked
Water in a Glass, part 2 video, checked
Water in a Glass, part 3 video, checked
Water in a Glass, part 1 video, checked
Challenge: Paper, Coin, Cup, part 2 video
Review Energy-6 quest
Review Energy-7 quest
Review Energy-8 quest


UT.5.IV.1.c Describe the behavior of objects charged with static electricity in attracting or repelling without touching.


MS-PS3-2 Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.