Electricity and Magnetism

Matching movement

Enrichment Activity for 5-11 11-14

What you need

  • A plastic cup
  • A match
  • A balloon
  • Two 1p coins


  1. Lay one coin flat on a table and balance the other on it vertically. Balance the match on the rim of the upper coin then place the cup over the whole set-up
  2. Blow up and tie the balloon then rub it against your hair or jumper. Move the balloon slowly round the cup, without touching it

Results and Explanation

The match moves as the balloon does!

Rubbing the balloon transfers negatively charged electrons to it, repelling electrons in the match in a way that causes it to spin.

Friction acts along the whole match when it’s lying flat and stops it moving, but it can spin when it’s resting on a point.

These experiments have not been specifically safety tested for home use but we believe them to be safe if the instructions are followed. Adult supervision or direction is recommended as appropriate. All experiments are carried out at your own risk.

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