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Electrical Fleas

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    The Exploratorium

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Electrical Fleas

In this activity about electricity, learners explore how static electricity can make electric "fleas" jump up and down. Learners use a piece of wool cloth or fur to charge a sheet of acrylic plastic. Then, they observe as tiny bits of Styrofoam, spices, ceiling glitter, or rice (aka "fleas") jump up to the plastic and then back down.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • A sheet of acrylic plastic or other clear plastic (about 1 foot [30 cm] square and 1/s inch [3 mm] thick)
  • A piece of wool cloth or fur
  • 4 supports about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) high (tuna cans work nicely)
  • A large piece of white paper, 11 x 17 inches (28 x 43 cm)
  • Tiny bits of "stuff." Aluminized ceiling glitter works well, as do grains of rice, puffed rice cereal, spices (dill weed, basil, ground cloves, or nutmeg), or bits of Styrofoam


  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
    • Motion and Forces
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, The Exploratorium,

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation
  • California Department of Education
  • NEC Foundation of America


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