Electricity and Magnetism

Static Spinning Straw

Enrichment Activity for 5-11 11-14

What you need

  • A drinking straw
  • Plastic bottle cap
  • A jumper
  • Your hands


  1. Place the plastic bottle cap on a table.  Rub the straw with a jumper several times in the same direction and then carefully balance the straw on the cap
  2. Bring one hand close to the straw, but don’t touch it. The straw will start to spin!
  3. Experiment with where to put your hand to get the best response. Does one end of the straw respond better than the other? Does using two hands rather than one make a difference?

Results and Explanation

Rubbing the straw makes it negatively charged and this induces a positive charge in your hand. The attraction between the straw and your hand makes the straw follow your hand as you move it.

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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