[ELI5] What causes static electricity?


My 5 year old nephew actually asked me this today and i had no way to explain before explaining what electrons are, what is a charge..

How do I simplify it?

In: 14

There is no simple answer for what change is. Your best option is to say, matter is made of two kind of little particles, one positive and the other is negative. The opposites attract. When you rub things together these charges can jump from one thing to the other making one slightly negative and the other slightly positive so they attract.

When you rub certain materials together, one can steal electricity from the other gradually in the form of tiny litter energy bits.

A static shock is all these little bits of energy jumping back the where they came from, all at once.

First you gotta explain friction by putting a shoe on a board and tilting it up. Then you take a balloon and rub it on the kids head and stick it to a wall and tell him lots of frictions make a static. The you shuffle on carpet in socks and shock him to show when static moves it can make a shock.
Anything more than that would hurt his head likely.

Static electricity happens when two things rub against each other and make tiny invisible sparks. You know how when you slide down a plastic slide, sometimes your hair sticks up on end? That’s because the plastic slide makes your hair and your clothes rub together and create static electricity. Basically, it’s like magic lightning that happens when things get too close and can’t resist each other. Cool, right?

Not being properly grounded and friction creating a static charge. Get a balloon and have your kid stand on the couch and rub his head on the balloon have him touch something metal that is grounded, he will get a shock, then have him do the same thing on the pavement outside without shoes, nothing will happen.