How to make a small electrostatic aeroplane

An interesting science experiment for schoolchildren is to make a small electrostatic plane to visualise how bodies are attracted to each other when they have different electric charges. Next, we will see how to make a small electrostatic aeroplane with few materials and in very few steps.

Materials

- Plastic clothes hook (hanger).

- Piece of wool.

- Pieces of aluminium foil.

How to create our own small electrostatic aeroplane

The first thing we are going to do is to create small planes with the pieces of aluminium foil with the help of a pair of scissors. Once we have created our little aluminium foil aeroplanes, it is time to create the propulsion system that we will see next.

We take the plastic clothes hook and with the help of a piece of wool, we rub it strongly all over the lower surface of the hook (hanger) until it gets a bit warmer. Once this is done, we will have our propellant ready, we bring it close to one of the little planes made of aluminium foil and we will see how it rises from the surface of the table and flies until it sticks to the plastic hook (hanger).

To repeat the experience, just rub the hook (hanger) with the wool again and try with the other little plane, we will see that the result is the same, they will always fly until they are fixed on the plastic hook.

How it works

The way it works is really simple, using elementary concepts of electricity such as electric charge and electrostatics. Thus, by rubbing the plastic hook (hanger) with the piece of wool, we are charging it with a negative charge. When an inert element (positively charged) is brought close to the plastic hook, it attracts the negative element to its surface. It is for this reason that the aluminium foil plane flies and sticks to the plastic hook.

The electric charge of the plastic hook (hanger) is achieved by the rubbing process, which causes a certain number of electrons to migrate from the woollen cloth to the plastic surface, creating an electric charge that concentrates on the surface and strongly attracts oppositely charged objects.

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