Pepper Sort

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Plastic spoon

Course salt

Ground black pepper

Piece of wool fabric (or another that will help cause static electricity)

Piece of paper


*Optional~~ Rice Crispie cereal


~~Pour a bit of salt on paper or table

~~Pour a bit of pepper with the salt

~~Mix together

~~Ask the children to separate the pepper and the salt with the spoon


Can they do it?

Ask them how can it be done?

After discussing how they could separate the pepper and the salt


~~Take the spoon and rub vigorously on the piece of fabric

~~Hold it about 1 inch above the salt/pepper pile (do not let the spoon touch)

~~The pepper should jump up to the spoon and stick to it


What’s happening?


Rubbing the spoon with the piece of wool causes the spoon to become negatively charged (static electricity) which attracts the pepper. The pepper is lighter than the salt.


~~Lower the spoon closer to the salt

Does the salt jump onto the spoon?


Because the salt is heavier than the pepper the charged spoon needs to be closer to be strong enough to pick up the salt.


~~Try to push the salt away with the spoon

To do this the spoon needs to be close to the salt but not so close that it sticks to the spoon.

You may have to try a few times placing the spoon in different ways to make it work. Start off with the salt in a small pile then try to push some off of it.



~~Place some Rice Crispie cereal on the paper or table

~~Rub the spoon again

~~Hold it just above the cereal

~~The pieces of cereal should jump onto the spoon

~~If there is enough of a charge they should “jump” off the spoon


The cereal is attracted to the spoon in the same way as the salt and pepper.

They will “jump” off when they become negatively charged and because like charges repel against each other they will “jump” off.  

Copyright 2006 Brighteyes Learning
Copyright 2005 Brighteyes Learning


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