Aluminum Foil Electroscope




Introduction: Aluminum Foil Electroscope

Fun with static electricity for all ages! If you enjoy rubbing balloons against your hair & sticking them to the wall or building up a charge with your stocking feet against the carpet to shock your sibling, then you're going to love seeing how much you can make the foil petals jump on this simple electroscope.

Supplies needed:

Aluminum foil
Mason Jar
Copper wire - solid, about 12 inches in length (14 gage or larger house wiring will work)
Hot glue

Step 1: Cut & Strip Wire

Cut wire to 12 inches in length.

Strip about 4" of insulation off each end using a wire strippers if available. If you don't have a wire strippers, you can use a utility knife and pliers to strip the insulation.

Step 2: Drill Thru Cork & Lid.

Drill a hole in the center of the cork and lid about the same size as the wire.

Step 3: Bend Wire

Bend wire as shown with a horse-shoe shape at one end.

Step 4: Assemble With Hot Glue

Push the cork over the wire and fix in place with a dab of hot glue.

Add hot glue to the back of the cork, push wire thru the lid and squeeze the cork/glue against the back of the lid.

Step 5: Add Aluminum Foil

Wrap two tabs of foil (about 3/4" x 2" strips) around each leg of the wire horse shoe. Use a small piece of scotch tape to attach the fold of foil back to itself.

Also crumble a ball of foil on the opposite end of the wire (outside the lid & jar). You can bend the wire on this end first to help retain the foil ball from sliding off.

Step 6: Screw the Lid Onto the Jar and Test

The tabs of foil will hang straight down if nothing is touching the foil ball.

Try rubbing a balloon against your carpet and then touching it against the foil ball. Watch the tabs repel each other because they carry the same charge.

Try other sources of static electricity. Rub your stocking feet against the carpet and hold your hair against the foil ball. Pull a sweater out of the drier and touch against the ball.

This will surely add some electricity to your day!!!

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    2 years ago on Step 6

    I wonder if it could be used to detect trans-dimensional creatures using static electricity to cross through thin membranes of quantum irregularities.


    Reply 2 years ago

    I've tried this without much success, but I suspect if I lived in a dryer climate, the electroscope would be more sensitive to disturbances from these creatures.


    2 years ago

    Neat - thanks! Do the foil tabs really need to be inside a jar like that for some reason?


    Reply 2 years ago

    It should work outside the jar too, but the tabs are very fragile. The jar protects them from damage and air movement. And also makes a good stand.