Static Electricity Butterfly
Are you ready to become a scientist? Use your arts and crafts skills to create and decorate a butterfly, then become a scientist and do an experiment. This activity is great for preschool age children. You will learn fun facts about butterflies and static electricity.
Tissue Paper (1 piece, any color)
Construction paper (1 piece, any color)
Markers or colored pencils
Googly eyes (optional)
Before we get started, gather your materials on a clear surface. We will be using safety scissors for this activity, so make sure you ask a caregiver before starting. In the end, if your butterfly does not look like mine, that is okay! Use your imagination and have fun. There are many different types of butterflies and they have different colors and patterns.
First, before a scientist starts their experiment, they come up with a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a prediction of what is going to happen. In this experiment we are going to be rubbing a balloon on our hair, then we will hold the balloon over our butterfly and see what happens. My hypothesis is that the butterfly wings are going to move when we hold the balloon over the wings. The reason I came up with this hypothesis is because I know when I rub a balloon on my hair, my hair stands up and is attracted to the balloon. Do you have the same hypothesis? Do you think the static charge from the balloon will be strong enough to move the tissue paper wings? Let’s get started and see what happens.
Step 1: We are going to cut our cardboard into a square. The cardboard is used as a background for our butterfly. We will be gluing our butterflies onto this piece of cardboard. If you want to make a big butterfly, cut a large square. If you want to make a smaller butterfly, cut a smaller square. There is no right or wrong size and it does not have to be a perfect square. My cardboard square is about the length of my head.
Step 2: Then, we are going to make the butterfly wings. Take your tissue paper, marker, and scissors. You can use any color tissue paper. I am using yellow because it reminds me of the sun and summer. You can use your favorite color! Draw butterfly wings on your tissue paper, but make sure they are smaller than your cardboard. Butterfly wings are symmetrical, which means they are the exact same shape on each side. But don’t worry, they do not have to be perfect! To make the wings, you can draw a big capital B and then a backward B connected or draw your own wings
After you draw your wings, cut them out. We are cutting them out in one piece, do not cut 2 separate wings. Be very careful when cutting because tissue paper is thin and rips easily.
Step 3: Next, we are going to make the butterfly body. Take your construction paper, scissors, and marker. Draw a butterfly body on the construction paper. To draw a butterfly body, I am starting with the head as a small circle between the size of a quarter and golf ball. Then draw a long skinny oval connected below the head, I am drawing my body a little longer than the length of my finger.
Cut out your butterfly body.
Step 4: Now, we are going to put it all together. Put the cardboard in front of you and place the wings on top of the cardboard (but do not glue them down). Next, glue the butterfly body on to the middle of the wings.
The wings should be between the cardboard and butterfly body. Never glue the wings down.
Step 5: We are going to decorate our butterflies and cardboard. I am going to glue googly eyes onto my butterfly, but if you do not have any, you can draw eyes.
I am going to draw on antennae. Butterflies use their antennae to sense smells and help them balance. Now, I am going to decorate my cardboard. You can draw whatever you want. I am drawing flowers because butterflies love flowers! They feed on the flower's nectar. You can also decorate your butterfly, but be careful drawing on the wings because they are very fragile. If you want to create a realistic butterfly, try to make the patterns and colors on the wings symmetrical, which means both wings would have the same colors and patterns. Real butterflies have symmetrical wings.
Step 6: Our butterflies are complete! Now let’s start the science experiment. Remember at the beginning, I hypothesized that the static charge from the balloon will make the wings move. Blow up your balloon and rub it on your hair. Hold the balloon over your butterfly and watch the wings
What happens? When you move the balloon further away, the wings lower and when you move the balloon closer, the wings rise. If the wings stop rising, just rub the balloon on your head again.
Do you know why the butterfly wings move when the balloon is close? Static electricity! You can create an electric charge by rubbing two things together, which creates friction. When we rub the balloon on our hair, the balloon gains a static charge. So electrons from your hair go to the balloon, giving it a static charge. When the balloon gets close to the tissue paper, they are attracted to each other, so the tissue paper moves towards the balloon. The balloon has a negative charge and the tissue paper has a positive charge. Opposite charges attract each other!
Great job! Now you have your very own butterfly. I hope you enjoyed this activity and learned something new.
~ Made by Tessa L.