The First Class Experiment

It has been awhile, but before spring break, the class conducted its first Benjamin Franklin experiment where we attempted to make electricity and create a charge on either balloons or combs. For the experiment, each person blew up there own balloon to their preferred size or received a comb. Everyone then received a square of felt, which was used to rub the entire balloon or comb for practically the whole class period. By rubbing the balloon or comb with the piece of felt, we were each trying to generate some sort of electrical charge. The way it was determined on whether or not we were successful was when Professor Allison would walk around the classroom holding a piece of cardboard, and attached to it was foil dangling from a wire. He would come over and hold the contraption close to the balloon or comb, and the foil would either remain still or pull towards the object that was rubbed by the felt. The more it pulled toward the object, the more electrical charge that was generated.

I found that I was somewhat successful with the experiment. I spent the entire class rubbing my balloon with the felt, however, only seemed to generate a little bit of a charge as the foil pulled only slightly towards my balloon. There could be a few reasons for this. I blew the balloon up to a pretty big size, so it could be possible that if I blew the balloon up smaller, more electricity would be generated as I would be dealing with a smaller area.  The other reason is that I was holding the balloon from the top, not from where the tie was, so it is also possible that the charges were transferring from the balloon to my hand as I continued to rub the felt on the balloon, causing only the slight pull by the foil to my balloon.

Overall, it was a simple, fun, and successful experiment, and I enjoyed being a mini Benjamin Franklin for the class.

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