ZAP!!! If you have ever seen a bolt of lightning as it leaps to the ground you might have wondered what caused the lightning strike. In a nutshell, it is just a vivid demonstration of the power of ‘Static Electricity (electrical energy that has gathered at one place)’. Static, as you might know, is the build of charge on objects until they find a way to somehow get discharged. Students find it fascinating to learn about static electricity, how objects get charged and what it means for objects to be in an electrostatic equilibrium.
Although lightning is a spectacular example of static electricity, it's not something we can harness. However, it is something that can be simulated in a classroom in front of students using a set of tools that were invented decades ago. For instance, a tesla coil, an invention which truly transformed the world in the time of it’s of inception, allows wireless transfer of electricity.
Another way of simulating lightning would be through a device known as the ‘Van de Graaff generator’. This device is a classroom classic which is used to accelerate particles through millions of volts or if that sounds confusing, it makes your hair stand when you touch it.
The rubber belt inside the Van de Graaff generator runs between two rollers made of different materials, causing electrons to transfer to the metallic dome. This device can generate up to a million volts when fully functional.
To experience the awe-inspiring greatness of this device, you have to make sure that you insulate yourself from the ground. Standing on top of a plastic stool or box would do the job as plastic is a good insulator.
The students were amazed when they saw their peers getting charged by the generator. Most of them stated that they have learned about static electricity in middle school before but never experienced what it’s like to interact with charged objects. As a teacher, that was the most fun I had in class since this semester started.
It’s classes like these that make SANNEW school an ideal place for students to learn. Classes at SANNNEW are interesting, they engage students and also narrow the difference between text book learning and real life application. The goal here is to make sure that before a student exits the classroom, they have absorbed useful information and can find ways to benefit themselves and in the future, all mankind.