Join students Sophie, Tomás, Emma, and Marcus during Fifth Period! This STEM comic strip chronicles the exciting and often hilarious adventures of a close-knit group of four friends as they learn about science, technology, engineering, and math from their kooky, inspiring, off-the-wall science teacher, Mr. Kepler. When they're not in class, these kids love to explore the vast world of STEM on their own, launching weather balloons, programming computer games, and cataloging insects, sometimes with unpredictable and highly entertaining results!
Check back on the first and third Friday of every month for a new Fifth Period strip!
What is Tomás really doing, besides striking out with Shannon? He’s actually transferring his extra electricity to her. You see, all matter—like our bodies—is made up of atoms, which are made up of smaller particles called protons and electrons. (There are actually more types of particles than just those two, but that’s a topic for another strip!). Protons, which are at the center (or nucleus) of an atom, have a positive charge. Electrons, which orbit the nucleus, have a negative charge. Running down the hall, Tomás probably picked up a few extra electrons from the friction of his feet on the floor, giving him an overall negative charge. When he comes in contact with Shannon, who is now more positively charged than he is, his extra electrons “jump” to her to equalize the imbalance, creating a spark!
Try it yourself!
Tomás demonstrated that things with opposite charges will be drawn to one another. Sometimes that attraction can be strong enough to move the entire object, if the object is small enough—like when your hair will stand on end after you rub it with a balloon. To create your own static electricity “magic,” get a plastic spoon and some salt. Vigorously rub the spoon on some cloth, and then hold it over the salt to see it “jump.” Keep trying this with bigger and bigger objects, like paper pieces, to see how large an object can be and still be moved by static electricity. But maybe don’t try it on your crush, OK?