5A40.20 - Electrostatics - Cans & Charged Rods

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Electrostatics - Cans & Charged Rods
Area of Study:
Electricity & Magnetism
Plexiglas or PVC Rods, Cats Fur, Silk, 2 Liter Plastic Bottles, and Pop Cans with no Dents.

Charge the PVC rod with the cats fur and bring near the pop can or the plastic bottle.  The pop can should be attracted to the rod and then repelled after it touches the rod.  The pop can will roll across the table by attracting or chasing it with a charged rod.

  • Paul Hewitt, "Figuring Physics: How Can Can Roll?", TPT, Vol. 50, #3, Mar. 2012, p. 134.
  • Gordon R. Gore, "The Mysterious Rolling Pop Can", TPT, Vol. 41, #9, Dec. 2003, p. 548.
  • Michael H. Brown, "Fun With Charged Bottles", TPT, Vol. 34, #7, Oct. 1996, p. 409.
  • "E- 085. Attract 2X4 with Rod-Roll Can", DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook, 1993.
  • Janice VanCleave, "Puller", 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre, & Incredible Experiments, p. 107.
  • Robert Ehrlich, "L.6. Charge-Propelled Aluminum Can", Turning the World Inside Out and 174 Other Simple Physics Demonstrations, p. 149.
  • Grant Mellor, "Imbalancing Act", Flying Tinsel, 1993, p. 28 - 32.
  • Bobby Mercer, "Roll With It Can", Junk Drawer Physics, p. 133.
  • Rudolf F. Graf, "The Obedient Ping Pong Ball", Safe and Simple Electrical Experiments, p. 8.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.