#5 Balloon Head

10 Points

Cover yourself in balloons using the same forces of nature that bees use! (To collect pollen, not stick balloons to themselves!)

Read the instructions

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What to do

Your mission is:

Stick balloons to yourself using electricity. Check out the notes for the tool list you need (above) and get electric!
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1. BLOW UP THE BALLOONS

Water balloons are a good size cos you can stick more on! 

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2. HARNESS THE POWER!

Take a balloon and rub it on your hair or your clothing to generate static electricity.

(Clean hair works better and looks lovely.)

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3. STICK ON THE STATIC

One idea: make a lumpy rubber wig by sticking the balloons to your head! Or see how many you can stick to your body. 

Some clothes (e.g. a polyester basketball singlet or a woolen jersey) can spark up heaps of static electricity.  

Once you’ve nailed that, get more balloons and cover your Mum or Dad with them. (They have to let you because it’s for Science.)

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4. BUZZ OUT

Try using freshly charged balloons to pick up:

- salt

- tissue

- rice bubbles

- bits of tinfoil

- your cat

Try rubbing the balloons on your head and sticking them to the wall or other things around the house. Or hold the balloon close to water running from a tap and bend water without touching it. (Photo credit.)

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5. UPLOAD THE ELECTRICITY

Take a photo of your balloon head, or the most spectacular illustration of static electricity in action, and upload to Wild Eyes to level up.*

Can you get more balloons on you or your parents/mates than these guys?

*You could upload the actual electricity, but that's a whole another science story, and don't play with electricity unless you know what you're doing: the results will be shocking!

WILD FACTOR

Get a buzz by seeing how many balloons you can stick to an unsuspecting adult e.g. your Dad snoozing on the couch.

What's happening?

AWESOME ELECTRONS

Electricity is all about the movement of electrons; we are talking about one of the smallest particles that are part of atoms = the building block of everything on our planet. Time to get atomic:

TWO TYPES

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– Storm from X-Men is a conductor of electricity

Electrons are the movers and shakers involved in the two main types of electricity:

1. STATIC ELECTRICITY: which is what is created when you rub a balloon on your hair

2. CURRENT ELECTRICITY: runs through a conductor – the electricity that powers your T.V and lights. Electricity can be generated or come from a chemical reaction.

A conductor is any material that current electricity can run through e.g., metal wire and water can conduct electricity. 

The shocking truth

Ever been zapped by the door handle when you climb out of a car? Or a doorknob after cruising over carpet?

No, you’re not a sorcerer – that’s static electricity wanting some attention! Static what you say? Watch the video and be schooled about all things static.

Nikola Tesla with his equipment Wellcome M0014782

Nikola Tesla - the original electricity wizard!

WHO'S IN CHARGE?

Everything you see around you is made up of tiny particles called atoms. These atoms are made up of even smaller particles called protons, electrons and neutrons. The protons are positively charged, the electrons are negatively charged and as you've probably guessed, neutrons are neutral and have no charge.

Most of the time the positive and negative charges are equal in the atom, but friction (rubbing against each other) causes imbalance ... results in something shocking!

ATOM MAN

Rutherford100new

– Radioactive Rutherford: the man with the mo on the hundy!!

Did you know the scientist who discovered atomic structure was a New Zealander! Nelson-born Nobel Prize winner Ernst Rutherford discovered the nucleus of an atom by bouncing incredibly small alpha particles off gold foil.

He was so on money with his atomic know-how that we put him on the money.

OPPOSITES ATTRACT

To re-cap (in case you didn't watch the video!) when two things rub against each other, one will leave with more electrons than it turned up with!

So when you rub a balloon against your head, it steals electrons from your hair leaving the balloon negatively charged and your hair positively charged.

And because opposite charges attract, your hair and the balloon become magnets for each other! This is what we call static electricity.

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HAIRY SPIKES

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Once you’ve rubbed the balloon on your hair, it will stay spikey for a bit even after the balloon has moved on to rub other heads.

This is cos each strand of hair is positively charged and so is trying to push away the hair next to it.

When you’ve got thousands of similarly charged hairs all trying to get away from each other, that’s when you get some proper hairy spikes going on!

Inspiration

DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!

Join Joe Genius and get 'amped up' experimenting with all things electric. This video has everything from lightning-bolt-emitting Tesla coils and high voltage can crushers to static electricity and homemade stun guns ... and a cat who experiences the ultimate static electricity frustration!

LIGHTNING UP?

When electrically charged areas of clouds discharge their energy during a storm, a flash of electricity (lightning) can be seen in the sky.

Not only is it lightning fast, but it’s ultra-hot too: 27,000 degrees Celsius is six times hotter than the surface of the sun! Check out this smashing video of lightning strike in Auckland.

BEE INFORMED

Native Bee2

– "Bee: ready to jump" said the pollen. (c) southernalpsphotography.com

Bees are attracted to flowers' bright colours and to the sweet scent of nectar. But did you know they use electricity too?

As bees fly through the air they bump into charged particles and the friction gives the bees a positive charge.

When the bee lands on a negatively charged flower, the flower's pollen literally ‘jumps’ from the flower to the bee, just like your hair to the balloon!

FINDING NEMO

So how about current electricity? is that used in nature too? Did you know that muscular movements and twitches in living animals and fish create tiny electrical currents which are conducted through salt water?

Some fish (like lampreys, catfish and hammerhead sharks - pictured) can sense these electric currents. This is called ‘electroreception’.

It helps them to "see" in dark areas and to find Nemo and other fish.   

Hammerhead shark Cocos Island Costa Rica

– I can sense fish for dinner!

INVISIBILITY SUIT

NZ shark expert and marine scientist Riley Elliot has sussed out a special stealth wetsuit that ‘muffles’ the electric pulse of his heartbeat and muscles so that sharks and other animals can’t use their electroreceptors to sense him.

By wearing the suit, divers and scientists can get close to underwater animals – watch Riley stroke a koura's (crayfish's) face in this video!

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Its simple... Use static electricity to stick balloons to your head, just like bees do with their pollen.
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This was my favourite mission yet! I had fun working as a team with my sister to cover each other. I used my balloon to pick up salt and sugar I didn't know I could do that! I also made a rocket.
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