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Polar Molecules

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Van de Graaff Confetti Explosion

What happens when a bunch of confetti is placed on the dome of a Van de Graaff generator?

Announcer: Frostbite Theater presents... Cold Cuts! No baloney!

Joanna and Steve: Just science!

Joanna: Hi! I'm Joanna!

Steve: And I'm Steve!

Joanna: And this is a Van de Graaff generator!

Steve: And these are a bunch of those little paper circles that you get when you use a hole punch.

Joanna: If we turn the Van de Graaff generator on, the belt carries electrons up from the earth and places them on the dome.

Steve: All electrons carry a negative electrical charge and like charges repel, so the electrons try to get away from each other.

Joanna: The electrons spread out the best that they can. They cover the surface of the dome and they get on each piece of paper.

Steve: If one piece of paper is negative and another piece of paper is also negative, they'll repel each other.

Joanna: If the whole dome is also negative, the pieces of paper will be repelled by that, too. Like this!

Thanks for watching! I hope you'll join us again soon for another experiment!

Steve: I think I ate one!

Joanna: It looks like it's snowing!

Steve: Puh! I did eat one!

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