Thursday, May 2, 2013

One Very Charming Snake [a Static Electricity Experiment]

The ancient art of snake charming concocts wonderfully imaginative visions of faraway places and exotic music. 

When I saw this activity in 50 Science Things to Make & Do by Georgina Andrews and Kate Knighton, I knew we had to give it a try. We already had all the supplies we needed!

What You Need
Tissue paper
Small plastic ruler
Wool fabric (I used a wool winter coat)

Here's how to be a snake charmer, with the help of static electricity.

Step 1
Use a plate to draw a circle on your tissue paper. Use a marker to do this, since a pencil or pen will be more likely to tear the thin tissue. Cut the circle out. 

TIP: If your tissue paper has folds in it, use an iron on a low temp setting to smooth it out some before drawing your circle.

Step 2
Draw a spiral inside the circle. Add eyes and a pattern to your "snake" with markers. (NOTE: My son neglected to decorate the snake's body until after Step 3 was complete and it was a challenge.)

Step 3
Cut along the spiral lines. Once you've finished cutting, recoil your snake.

Step 4
Take your ruler and vigorously (I'm talkin' hard and fast, folks) rub one end of the plastic ruler back and forth against the wool material for 30 seconds or longer.

Step 5
Now touch the end of the ruler that you rubbed to the snake's head. Watch the snake rise up and uncoil itself!

The extra particles transferred from the wool to the ruler cause a build-up of static electricity that is strong enough to lift the lightweight tissue paper.

If you weren't convinced to check out 50 Science Things to Make & Do when you saw the amazing kaleidoscope we made, hopefully you are now!


  1. What a fun idea! We just learned about snakes with Tot School and I'm can't wait to show this to my daughter and her big sister!

  2. FANTASTIC and fun science experiment. LOVE!!! I'm pining it on a board for visiting Morocco with the kids. Love activities to help them get excited about a trip and educational to boot - You get an A+ for sharing this fun experiment. THANKS!! :)