Mysterious Forces

In Mary Shelly’s time, people were starting to experiment with the mysterious natural forces of electricity and magnetism. They didn’t have the sophisticated technology we have today to produce, measure, and control those forces. Instead they used everyday objects and their imaginations. For example, Benjamin Franklin imagined that he could show that lightning is a form of electricity by flying a kite in a storm.

You can demonstrate that electricity and magnetic forces are related with things you probably have around the house.

You can download and print these instructions.


Collect these materials:

  1. empty soft drink can
  2. balloon
  3. a good head of hair, or a piece of wool cloth


What’s Going On!?

When you rub the balloon against your hair or the cloth, the friction between those two different materials causes a static electric charge to build up on the balloon. (It’s called a tribolectric effect, if you want to google it to learn the technical details.) When you move the balloon near the can, the balloon’s negative charge attracts the positive charge on the can, and since its round, it starts rolling like a wheel.

Show us what you made!

Did you make a mysterious force? Then share it with us! We love seeing what people make.


...and then claim your exclusive Frankenstein200 Award Certificate!