Light up your festive season with fun electrical experiments for all the family

There are a lot of simple, fun, and inexpensive experiments you can do at home over Christmas – to amaze yourselves (and your children!) and learn just a little about this amazing form of energy. Here are a few suggestions.

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Electricity. It’s everywhere! Did you know that the energy from an average bolt of lightning would be enough to power the whole of Norwich? Only for a few seconds, but it’s a shame we can’t capture that electrical charge. Inside our bodies, our hearts, brains, nervous systems and muscles all depend on electrical impulses to work properly. Electricity is essential for keeping us alive.

 

Excel Electrical’s business is based on understanding electricity: how it works, and how best to use it efficiently, effectively, and safely. There are a lot of simple, fun, and inexpensive experiments you can do at home over Christmas – to amaze yourselves (and your children!) and learn just a little about this amazing form of energy. Here are a few suggestions.

 

 

Bend water

 

You’ll need:

  • A sink
  • A balloon or a plastic comb

 

What to do:

  • Turn on the tap to run a small but consistent stream of water
  • Rub the balloon or the comb through your hair to build up a static charge
  • Hold the comb or balloon very close to the stream of water
  • Watch the water bend!

 

 

Separate salt and pepper

 

You’ll need:

  • A pasta bowl or cereal dish
  • Table salt
  • Ground pepper
  • A spoon
  • A plastic comb

 

What to do:

  • Mix the salt and pepper grains in the bowl
  • Run the comb through clean, dry hair
  • Hold the comb over the dish
  • Watch the pepper grains jump!

 

 

Make a drinks-can electroscope

 

You’ll need:

  • One empty drinks can, ring-pull still attached
  • Insulating tape
  • A polystyrene cup
  • Aluminium foil
  • Scissors

 

What to do:

  • Turn the cup upside down and rest the side of the can on top
  • Tape the can to the upside-down cup using the insulating tape
  • Cut two strips of aluminium foil, about 40mm by 5mm
  • Bend the end of each strip into a hook shape, then hang the strips from the ring-pull tab
  • Using the cup as a handle, hold the electroscope up to various electrical items and see what happens!

 

 

Make a potato clock

 

You’ll need:

  • Two potatoes
  • Two pieces of copper wire
  • Two galvanised (zinc-coated) nails
  • Three pairs of crocodile clips connected by short lengths of wire
  • One low-voltage digital clock, such as an alarm clock
  • A marker pen

 

What to do:

  • Take the battery out of the clock, noting where the positive and negative terminals are
  • Label the potatoes as ‘Potato 1’ and ‘Potato 2’
  • Push a nail into each potato
  • Push a piece of copper wire into each potato, as far as possible away from the nail
  • Use the crocodile clips and wires to connect the copper wire in Potato 1 to the clock’s positive terminal, and the nail in Potato 2 to the negative terminal
  • Use the remaining crocodile clips and wire to connect the nail in Potato 1 to the copper wire in Potato 2
  • Set the time!

 

You’ll note that while we’ve given you some fun experiments to try, we haven’t explained how they work. Can you and your children figure out what’s happening in each activity?

 

Excel Electrical. This festive season, the power is very much in your hands.

 

Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

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