The Wimshurst Machine

Author(s): Esther Dabagyan and Sojin Kim
Demonstration Equipment - Teacher's Guide
SED 695B

Principles Illustrated: Static Electricity


Standards Addressed: 9-12 Physics. Electric and Magnetic Phenomena. 5m. Students know static electric fields have as their source some arrangement of electric charges.


Explanation of Principles Involved
The Wimshurst Machine The electrons are physically pushed from one place to another by rubbing two surfaces together (brush and the aluminum on the plates). The electrons build up on one side of the machine only and finally when enough electrons have accuilated, they "jump" to the other side of the machine, making a spark. The reason the electron "jump" is because there is a higher negative concentration on one side of the machine, than the other.


Two insulating plates are truned in opposite directions with a handle by one person. Each plate has aluminum on its outside and there are brushes that come in contact with each plate. A second perdon can move the handle bars closer to each other to view shorts sparks that occur often and move handlebars further away to view sparks that are longer but less frequent.



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