Charge Challenge

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In this activity, learners explore how objects can have positive, negative, or neutral charges, which attract, repel and move between objects. Learners charge various materials and observe their interactions. Winter is an ideal time to perform these experiments (because there is less water vapor in the air); if it is humid, use a hair dryer to dry the objects, surfaces, and air around the work area.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • copy of worksheet (printed out on letter - 8.5 x 11 inch paper)
  • pencil
  • cellophane tape (invisible tape)
  • Paper clip unbent so it is in the shape of a W with a 12 inch long string or thread (crochet thread or thing kite string work well) tied in the middle (prepare beforehand).
  • Packing peanut (puffed wheat works as a substitute)
  • Plastic spoons (2)
  • Saran Wrap or other static plastic wrap
  • Cotton clothing


  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, University of Kansas, 2006

Funding Sources:

  • University of Kansas
  • National Science Foundation, EPS-0236913
  • State of Kansas through the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation
  • National Science Foundation, EPP-0354836
  • National Science Foundation, EPS-90903806
  • Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
  • Google