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Online - Static Science


February 2024


February 2024




The Collections Centre


FREE activity. If you can, please make a donation.

Try this month's activities to learn more about static electricity through a fun experiment!

Did you know that in 2009, to make Formula One a greener sport, teams began to utilise the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) during races?

KERS stores the electricity generated by braking which can be used to boost power - basically making the car a hybrid. Drivers could access an extra 80 horsepower for 6.7 seconds a lap during overtaking and defending which works out at a 10% increase in power per lap! 

However, KERS systems add an additional 30 kg of weight to each car. A further downside to this technology may have been seen during testing in 2008 when one member of the BMW-Sauber F1 team quite literally received a shock after touching their car following a test run. The unfortunate technician was knocked off his feet by the static build-up from the car, whilst driver Christian Klien was safely insulated by the rubber tyres. 

Luckily for our workshop team, the Museum’s 1970 Tyrrell March Ford 701 Formula One car was produced before KERS was developed but nowadays F1 mechanics and marshals who are in contact with KERS systems have to wear insulating gloves which can insulate against 1,000 volts of electricity.

To prepare everyone for British Science Week in March our resident boffins, Professor Pickle and Dr Pumpkin, have been hard at work in the lab investigating static electricity.

Check out the video below to see one of their favourite electricity-themed experiments from the back catalogue, Electrostatic Ghosts. This is one you can try at home!

You can share images of your shockingly static ghosts on our SHARE tab! 

Alternatively, you can update the scientists on your progress via our Facebook page - don’t forget to use the hashtag #ExploringBMM.

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