Rolling Cans

Have you ever used a magic to move an object? Well this is pretty close! In this experiment we’ll be controlling the movement of an empty drinks can without even touching it!

You will need

  • An empty fizzy drink can
  • Balloon
  • Hair or jumper


  1. Put the empty can on its side on the table
  2. Blow up your balloon and secure
  3. Rub the balloon on your hair back and forth really fast.
  4. Hold the balloon about 2 cm away from the can. The can will begin to roll.
  5. Begin to move the balloon away from the can and notice hoe the can follows.


  • What happens if you move the balloon to the other side of the can?
  • How fast can you make the can roll?
  • How far will the can move before it stops?
  • Can you roll it up hill?
  • Use  jumper instead of your hair to see if you can produce the same effect. Is a jumper better?


You have created static electricity. Everything around us is made of matter consisting of atoms. Atoms contain protons and electrons which are charged particles. Protons have a positive charge and electrons have a negative charge and this opposite charge means they are attracted to one another. If the charges are imbalanced they can move between objects to restore the balance and this static electricity produced can be used to do work

When you rub a balloon on your hair you are loading up the balloon with electrons (you stole electrons from your hair). The balloon was filled with static electricity. There is an uneven amount of negative charge on the surface of the balloon which wants to restore balance again.  When you place the balloon near the can, the extra electrons (negative charges) on its surface of the balloon, attracted the protons (positive charges) on the surface of the Aluminium can causing the can to follow the balloon. Eventually when the positive and negative charges on the surface of the balloon and can become balanced again, the effect will stop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *