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Static Electricity Demonstration: Make an Electroscope

by Ron Kurtus (updated 21 November 2022)

An electroscope is a simple device used to detect nearby static electricity, as well as to give an indication of the strength of the electric field.

A good demonstration project is to make an electroscope to use in other experiments.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.


The purpose of the project is to make a working model of an electroscope and then test it out to detect static electricity.


You can use everyday materials to make a simple electroscope:

Simple electroscope

Simple electroscope


  1. Cut the cardboard a little bigger than the top of the jar.
  2. Stick the nail through the middle of the cardboard lid.
  3. Attach two pieces of thin (thickness) Mylar foil to the end of the nail. You might try some thin plastic strips or even thin paper.
  4. Put the lid on the jar.
  5. When you put a charged object close to the nail head, the foil strips should separate.

Test device

Create some static electricity by running a comb through your hair or rubbing a balloon against a sweater. Then test your electroscope by brining the source of static charges close to the device. The fols leaves should separate.


You can easily make a working model of an electroscope.

Electrify others

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