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Shocking Science at Explorit's Extended Hours

This article appeared in the April 15, 2016 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Shocking Science at Explorit's Extended Hours

Explorit visitors exploring a Van De Graaff generator


By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise


Stop by Explorit Science Center’s extended public hours on Friday, April 15 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and get zapped! We’ll be exploring static electricity and putting a spark in your Friday!


Take a turn with one of our Van De Graaff static electricity generators for a hair-raising good time. Plus, discover who Van De Graaff was and the wonders of what he generated.


If you’ve ever shuffled across the carpet in socks, snuck up behind somebody and zapped them, you’ve experienced static electricity. Static electricity is usually generated by friction, rubbing things together, in this case your socks and the carpet.


Static electricity can cause sparks or a feeling of getting zapped. Or it can cause things to stick together. If you’ve ever pulled your shirt out of the dryer and it had a sock stuck to it, that’s static electricity at work.


A Van De Graaff generator uses a rubber belt to build up a static charge and feed it into a big silver ball. When you place your hands on that ball, all that charge begins to flow through your body. What do you think might happen? Come find out!


You can also keep the static fun going at home. Try one or two of these simple, fun experiments to discover the static electricity in your world.


Blow up a balloon, then rub it vigorously on your hair. What happens? Why? Is it what you were expecting?


Or line up several small, light-weight items such as a scrap of paper, a foam packing peanut, or a cereal flake on a table. Then run a thin plastic comb through your hair several times. Hold the comb close to but not touching these items. What happens? Can you explain why?


Lay a clean, empty aluminum can on its side or a ping pong ball, then hold the balloon or comb near it. Can you roll the can all the way across the table?


Turn on the sink so that a small amount of water is flowing steadily. Hold your charged balloon or comb near the water, but not touching it. What does the water do now?


In each of these experiments, where does your balloon or comb get its electric charge? How long does it hold its charge? When it runs out, how can you recharge it?


But don’t let the static fun stop there. Be sure to join us for this special evening of extended public hours with our Van De Graaff generators. It’ll be shockingly good fun and nothing taxing! This event is free to Explorit members and with paid admission to the museum.


Explorit’s coming events:


  • Explorit’s Exploration Gallery is open to the public every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and every Friday, 3:00-6:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free. Come check out the new Nano Mini Exhibition!
  • Summer Science Camp registration is open now! Visit for all the details.  Interested in volunteering at our Summer Science Camps?  Call Explorit now!
  • Interested in membership?  Think your Explorit membership may have lapsed?  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 to check or sign up!
  • Birthdays are back at Explorit!  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 for more information or to book your party.



Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit, or “like” us on Facebook at

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