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Experiment with balloons and a woollen cloth to prove one of the most important laws of electricity: like charges repel and unlike charges attract.

The discovery that there were two kinds of electric charges – positive and negative – was made by a French scientist named Charles Dufay, in 1733. You can perform  his experiments yourself.
Rub two inflated balloons with a woolen cloth, and hold the balloons together closely. They will try to spring apart.

Rub two pieces of nylon on a sheet of paper and then hold them together closely. Again, they will try to spring apart.

Now hold one balloon and one piece of nylon together closely. This time, the nylon clings to the balloon.

This is what has happened:

The two balloons have taken electrons from the woolen cloth and so have acquired a negative charge. The two pieces of nylon have lost electrons to the sheet of paper, and so have acquired a positive charge.  

The experiment demonstrates one of the most important laws of electricity: like charges repel and unlike charge attract. The two negative charges (on the balloon) tried to push each other away. The two positive charges (on the piece of nylon) also tried to push each other away. But the unlike charges, the balloon and the nylon, tried to move closer together. You will see the importance of this law when we examine electric current and how electric current is produced. The word "static” means "at rest”, and static electricity is electric charges which are at rest in an object. If we can make these charges move in some way, we produce electric current.

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