Sunday, January 18, 2015

Static Electricity--A Hair Raising Experience!

In third grade enrichment last week students had the opportunity to explore static electricity. We began our discussion by thinking about matter, atoms and electrons.  Once we understood that electrons sometimes want to jump from atom to was time to explore materials and witness this phenomenon for themselves!  Students were given a balloon, some salt on a plate, a fleece square of material, tissue paper and a comb.

Once students had an opportunity to explore materials and understand static electricity (by generating it as well as experiencing it first hand), we met as a group to talk about why static electricity was important. Besides being a great introduction into the electricity unit--static electricity is something engineers have to understand for the manufacture of computer chips.  We looked at some sample computer chips and their packaging, and then I asked the question:  How would engineers at a factory like IBM protect their chips from static electricity?

Below is the note I wrote from our responses.  I have sent this to an IBM ESD (Electro Static Discharge) Engineer, and we await his reply!

Dear IBM Engineer--
We are third graders at Richmond Elementary School and we are beginning our study of electricity. Today we had an exploratory lesson on static electricity. Our teacher, Mrs. Rankin shared with us that static electricity can be a problem with computer chip manufacturing (since you have such small wires on your chips).  We came up with some ideas of what you might do  to avoid static electricity at your factory.
Here is our list:
*Wear special clothes
   **Do not wear fleece (maybe leather? We are not sure what material would work best)
*Make your chips bigger so the wires will not be as small
*Cover the wires on your chips with something that keeps the static away from the wires
*Have back up wires on your chips
*Do not have carpets in your lab (We think tile or wood might be better)
*Do not touch chips, but use tweezers or robots
*Only make chips when it is the right weather (we get lots more static shocks in the winter)
*Put your chips in special packages

We are wondering if you do any of these things already?  We were also wondering if there were things we missed that you doing your lab ?

Thanks for helping us to connect real life problems to our studies!
RES Third Graders

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