Floating Static Bands

Steve Spangler
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Informative Text , Experiment/Lab Activity , Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



The resource describes five short activities involving static electricity attraction and repulsion, then offers suggestions for students to alter activities by changing one suggested variable at a time, in order to design and try their own investigations. A “How Does it Work?” section summarizes the nano scale explanation for static attraction and repulsion.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 6
  • Middle School
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-PS2-5 Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.

Clarification Statement: Examples of this phenomenon could include the interactions of magnets, electrically-charged strips of tape, and electrically-charged pith balls. Examples of investigations could include first-hand experiences or simulations.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to electric and magnetic fields, and limited to qualitative evidence for the existence of fields.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Although the word “fields” is not used, the purpose of this website is to share activities that demonstrate the idea of forces being exerted without direct contact. The first portion of this website offers activities demonstrating this principle with static electricity. The last segment offers tips about how to modify the activities to create scientific investigations.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The website specifically lays out the difference between demonstrations/activities and what they call “a science fair project” (i.e. an investigation). Suggestions are given for how to turn the one into the other. Teachers could also encourage kids to go above and beyond the suggested investigations, using the website’s reminder to “change something, create a new test, and then compare results.”, and “only change one thing at a time. Observe what happens, document your results, and get ready to share your discoveries”. Although this language is vague, the underlying idea is sound, and does include sometimes-overlooked steps of comparing results and sharing discoveries. Students can also be encouraged to phrase their investigation topic in the form of a question, to strengthen the idea that scientific investigations use evidence to answer questions. The teacher can support this by having the students share their “answers” and discoveries in the form of teacher-provided questions, or a brief oral summary for the class, or a poster, lab report.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Though the word “field” itself is not mentioned, the website explains about attracting, repelling and electrostatic propulsion. The activities and suggested investigations are specifically meant to show objects causing other objects to move without direct contact. If students are not yet familiar with the word “fields”, a teacher could modify the “How Does It Work?” section to include that vocabulary, or have students brainstorm other forces that can move things without touching them, as an introduction to a discussion about the concept of fields. When designing and running their own experiments, students can be encouraged to collect evidence about, and communicate the presence/location of, the fields involved. Diagrams may be helpful for this.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Although the activity does not specifically refer to the words “ stability” or “change”, the the “How Does It Work” reading section makes it clear that there’s a connection between the changes that are seen in the activities and the forces at the nano scale. To make this concept more explicit, teachers can encourage students to, either orally or in writing, link the specific changes they observe in activity 2, 3, 4, or 5 (objects begin to move and/or float) with changes at the nano scale (transfer of electrons, and attraction/repulsion of charges) in order to explain why the objects behave as they do. Teachers could also have students use the idea of charge to explain why sometimes there is stability, or no change in objects' behavior (e.g. two uncharged balloons neither attract nor repel, but just "sit there").

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource offers a basic progression from observation of phenomena, to reading a text explaining the “invisible’ micro-level underpinnings of the phenomena, to the design of their own experiments involving the same phenomena. The crosscutting concept is not as clearly supported by the resource as the practice and the Disciplinary Core Idea, but due to the nature of the activities, it can be incorporated with a little attention to vocabulary on the teacher’s part.

  • Instructional Supports: Students are exposed to multiple, real-world phenomena. Due to the sub-microscopic nature of electron interaction, students are told about what the electrons are doing, rather than asked to figure that out for themselves. Opportunities for sharing ideas and argumentation are implied but not explained. A teacher could differentiate by picking and choosing from the activities suggested, or by offering modified scaffolds to different students as they develop their own investigations.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The resource offers no methods or suggestions for this. A teacher can informally assess via student questions and comments during the activities, and can add a formal assessment of student investigations (See tips for the Practice, above).

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This resource is meant to be read as instructions, and is not itself interactive.