This dancing ghost Halloween STEAM activity is so simple but very effective.
I used this activity for a homeschool Halloween STEAM class I taught last year. I mean, who doesn’t like the challenge of making a ghost dance using nothing but a bit of static electricity?!? All you need are a few simple materials.
And while it may look like magic, it’s really just science. (But shh. . . don’t tell the kids!)
(STEAM, for the uninitiated, stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math. And now you know!)
Note: For more kid-friendly Halloween activities, see my Halloween activities for Kids page.
To make a dancing ghost, you will need the following supplies:
- Tissue paper
- Latex balloon
- Optional: Black marker
Start by cutting your tissue paper into the shape of a ghost. Our ghost was about 6″ (15 cm) tall, but feel free to experiment with larger and smaller sizes to see how they work.
If you like, you can use a marker to add a face to your ghost.
Next, blow up a balloon and rub it on the nearest head of hair or rug you can find in order to give it a static charge.
Then hold the balloon over your ghost to make it dance! Check out this video to see how it works!
Super cool, am I right?!?
What’s the science behind the dancing ghost?
When a latex balloon is rubbed against human hair or even a carpet, electrons are transferred from the hair or carpet to the latex balloon. This results in the balloon having a net negative charge.
When the balloon is then brought close to the tissue paper, which has a net neutral charge, the negatively charged balloon pulls the positively charged protons in the paper toward it. This creates an attractive force, allowing you to lift the ghost with a touch of the balloon and make it dance.
More Halloween resources
More Halloween posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Grow a candy jack-o-lantern
- Flying teabag ghosts
- Mason jar jack-o-lantern
- Candy experiments
- Halloween Montessori activities
- Toilet paper mummies
- Pumpkin decomposition experiment
- Describe a pumpkin using all five senses
- Jack-o-lantern Printables Pack