Flying Saucer Science Experiment

Turn an ordinary plastic bag into an Unidentified Flying Object using the science of static electricity.

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a ... flying plastic bag! With this easy science experiment, you can make a basic produce bag levitate in the air while demonstrating the fascinating properties of static electricity. The secret lies in what’s called the “propulsion and repulsion” of electrostatic charges. Using a cotton towel, you can apply negative charges to both the bag and balloon. Like two ends of a magnet with the same charge, the balloon and bag will move away from each other, causing the bag to levitate.

Supplies
Plastic produce bag
Scissors
Balloon (inflated and tied at the end)
Cotton towel

Instructions
Using the scissors, cut an inch-thick strip off the top (or open end) of the produce bag. You should now have a plastic loop or “belt.”

Rub the cotton towel over the surface of the balloon for about 45 seconds.

Laying the plastic loop on a flat surface, rub it with the cotton towel, again for about 45 seconds.

Have a partner hold the end of the balloon. Now hold the plastic loop roughly one foot directly above the balloon (like it’s a hat you’re putting on the balloon). Let go of the loop. The plastic should levitate in the air, repelled by the balloon’s negative charge.