The best way to see if you’ve generated static electricity is to put on wool socks, run around on a plush carpet rubbing your feet briskly, and touch metal or another human.
See how many times you come out unscathed. We also recommend a less painful way, like bending water. You’ll need clean and dry hair, the bathroom sink, and a plastic comb.
First, turn the water on to a very slow, smooth trickle. Then comb your hair quickly about a dozen or so times. Very slowly move the comb close to the water stream, without touching the water.
The water bends! Since the static electricity is creating a negative charge on the comb, it’s attracting the positive charge in the water.
Another fun way to generate static electricity is with the Styrofoam often used to package meat and a lightweight metal pie tin.
First, cut a corner off the clean and dry Styrofoam tray and tape the corner to the middle of the inside of the pie tin. This is what you’ll use to move the pie tin, so make sure it’s taped firmly enough to be used as a handle.
Now rub the rest of the Styrofoam tray on your head or on a wool sweater. Do this briskly, and then set it down on a nonmetallic table.
Hold the pie tin centered six to twelve inches above the Styrofoam tray and carefully let it drop so it lands and stays on top of the tray.
Don’t let the pie tin come any closer than six inches or a foot to the tray before you let go, or the experiment won’t work as well.
Turn out the lights and put your finger on, or close to, the pie tin for some cool fireworks.
When the pie tin stops sparking, renew the static electricity by rubbing the tray briskly on your head or sweater again.