What is needed

What to do

What is happening

Cats, and other fuzzy objects, will build up static when drawn across a carpet. You might see sparks flashing between the two! Static forms because of this: when different materials (say, carpet and cat fur) are in contact, one might have a greater liking for electrons than the other. It will then pull electrons away. This means that one material will end up with too many electrons, and the other too little. By moving the cat across the carpet, you increase the area of fur exposed to the carpet, and so you increase the charge transferred until ZAP! Sparks fly!

The contents of the page was modified from that created for the
Little Shop of Physics, Colorado State University


1. When drawn across the carpet, what is built up on cats and other fuzzy objects?

2. If you were to look carefully, what might you see if you were to drag the cat over a carpet?

3. What causes a static charge to form?

4. What happens if electrons are pulled away from one of the two materials?

5. How can you increase the area of cat's fur exposed to the carpet?

6. What will be the end result from increasing the number of electrons on one of the objects?


Obtaining credit for your efforts

  • Print a copy of the blank laboratory write-up paper.
  • Read and complete each section, incomplete write-ups receive no credit.
  • Have your parent check your work and sign the paper.