Electrostatics and Hair Type
Country: United States
Date: Spring 2010
My child's class did a science project. Each child rubbed a
balloon on their hair. Then they took the balloon and they held it over a
tin can (coke). The can moved as the balloon was moved back and forth over
the can. Now, when the four African American did the same thing, the can
would not move. Why? Please point us in the right direction in locating
the information. We have search the Internet and gone to the Library.
Admittedly, I do not know. However, there are some possibilities, and
some laws of nature that have to be obeyed.
The balloon will hold a charge, so the failure to hold a charge means that
Caucasian have some "factor" the African American children -- or the
opposite. This is a complicated question. For example, if the African
American use a shampoo, and/or hair styling formula, that is more
conductive, the observed result would occur. What about different brands of
combs and brushes as well as shampoo? Is the clothing of the two groups is
different, one may dissipate charge more quickly.
As happens in science, you have an observation that defies explanation
because the observation gives an unexpected result. That means you must
apply "the scientific method" to identify the important parameters. You have
the makings of a super project. For example: Was your African American
sample representative? Was your Caucasian sample representative? How long
before your class did your class shower? (That would "ground" any static
charge on the hair.)
Make sure that exchanging soda cans has no effect because if there is an
effect maybe it is the cans that need investigation, not the students.
The question you pose is difficult. But studying it could be a very
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Update: June 2012