magic jumping foil

 Make foil ‘magically’ jump around in just 30 seconds!

We all love seeing kids go ‘ooooh’! This really quick activity is guaranteed to amaze kids (and adults!) and get them saying ‘let’s do it again’!

Who knew that with just a paper towel and a plastic tub you could use static electricity to make it look like pieces of foil are actually jumping or flying about by themselves? We’ve tried a lot of fun experiments at SUPA STEM HQ, but this has to be one of our favourites.

Thank you to Beautiful Little Mind for sharing this brilliant activity with us!

Materials

All you need to do this simple aluminum foil activity at home is:

  • Foil
  • Plastic container
  • Paper towel

Instructions

To make jumping pieces of aluminum foil, here’s what you need to do:

1. Cut some foil up into small pieces but don’t let them get too scrunched up. You want them to be light and small.

2. Put them under a small plastic container.

3. Rub the top of the container with a paper towel for 30 seconds.

***see below for troubleshooting!***

magic jumping foil activity in action rub it with a paper towel



4. Then watch the little pieces of foil jump and fly about inside the container. Ooooh!

It will only last for a few seconds but you can repeat the experiment as many times as you like. 

***If you have trouble getting this activity to work, try the following:***

  • Use a thinner plastic container (for example, the kind you might get from a takeaway).
  • Bend the foil pieces so they aren’t completely flat
  • Rub harder/faster/longer
magic foil static activity

How does this work?

Here’s a simple rundown on how this activity works!

Static electricity is the build-up of an electrical charge on the surface of an object – in this case, the plastic container. When you rub the container, it builds up a big charge. Objects can have a positive or negative charge.

Objects that have a similar charge push away from each other and objects that have an opposite charge are pulled towards each other – like a magnet.

The pieces of foil are attracted to the container so they fly up towards it, and when the static charge runs out they stop moving.

If your kids like science experiments that look magical, we think they’ll love making floating pictures

magic floating pictures with dry wipe marker pens
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