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Daily Life Famous People

Nikola Tesla

Activities

1.  Tesla was well known for his electrical inventions. Obviously, we can’t have you doing experiments with Tesla Coils… but, we CAN let you learn from a safer form of electricity — static electricity!  Check out this water bending experiment.  It works best if you have wool but your hair will do in a pinch.

2.  Grab a friend, two empty soda cans and a balloon!  You can race the empty cans without ever touching them with this static electricity experiment:

Materials

A smooth surface (like a table top)

• Straw 

• A container to mix dish soap and water 

• Dish soap 

• Water 

• Empty plastic bottle 

• Your hair 

Procedure

1. Mix some dish soap with water.

2. Coat the smooth surface with the soapy water. 

3. To blow a bubble, suck up some soapy water with the straw (NOT all the way! Don’t drink it!) and then blow it gently onto the smooth surface. 

4. Charge the empty plastic bottle by rubbing it with your hair, and then bring the side of the bottle near the soap bubble. Observe what happens. 

5. Blow a smaller bubble inside the bigger bubble, and see what happens when you place the charged plastic bottle near them. 

Question: What do you think is going on here? The soap bubble is electrically neutral (it has the same number of positive protons and negative electrons), but it also contains “impurities” which are ions that are either charged positively or negatively, and that can move around. When you bring a negatively charged object (the plastic bottle) near the bubble, the negative electrons in the bottle attract the positively charged ions within the bubble–remember, opposite charges attract—causing the bubble to move towards the bottle!

Nikola Tesla helped invent the radio, radar, and wireless communication as well as lights, robots, and remote controls.  But who was Nikola Tesla?  How did he and his inventions change the world?  And what was his beef with Thomas Edison?   

Listen to the short Who Smarted? episode for kids about Nikola Tesla for free here!

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