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Daily Do

How Will the Charged Objects Interact?

Chemistry Crosscutting Concepts Disciplinary Core Ideas Is Lesson Plan NGSS Phenomena Physical Science Science and Engineering Practices Three-Dimensional Learning Middle School High School Grades 6-8 Grades 9-12

Sensemaking Checklist

Welcome to NSTA's Daily Do

Teachers and families across the country are facing a new reality of providing opportunities for students to do science through distance and home learning. The Daily Do is one of the ways NSTA is supporting teachers and families with this endeavor. Each weekday, NSTA will share a sensemaking task teachers and families can use to engage their students in authentic, relevant science learning. We encourage families to make time for family science learning (science is a social process!) and are dedicated to helping students and their families find balance between learning science and the day-to-day responsibilities they have to stay healthy and safe.

Interested in learning about other ways NSTA is supporting teachers and families? Visit the NSTA homepage.

What is Sensemaking?

Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.


Everyone has experience with static electricity, from clothes sticking together when they come out of the dryer to seeing sparks fly through the air between their fingers and a metal door knob.

In today's task, How will the charged object interact?, students engage in science and engineering practices and the thinking tool of cause and effect (crosscutting concepts) to begin to make sense of science ideas about electric fields.

This task is from High School: Interactions Unit 1 - Why do some clothes stick together when they come out of the dryer? which has earned the NGSS Design badge.


Before you introduce this task to students, consider watching the How to do the tape activity video.


Directions for Students

  1. Get a strip of tape that is 1.5 to 2 inches long. Fold over one end of the tape as shown. This will give you a non-sticky handle to hold the tape with.
  2. Stick this piece of tape to the table (bare surface) and label the handle the B for bottom.
  3. Get a second strip of tape that is 1.5 to 2 inches long, and fold it in the same way. Place it directly on top of the first piece of tape, and label the handle T for top.
  4. Using the handles, lift both pieces of tape off the table at the same time. Then touch the entire length of the strip on both sides with your fingers several times.

This investigation requires students to work in partners (classmate or family member). Each partner needs their own set of tape pieces.


Investigation Part 1: Tape

Instruct students to pull the pieces of tape apart, making sure not to touch the tape anywhere except on the non-sticky handles (see picture 5 above).

Tell students, "Investigate with your partner to see how the pieces of tape interact with each other when you bring two of them close together in different combinations. For example, slowly bring the tape pieces labeled B together without touching the tape together. What do you observe?" Ask students to record their observations on the activity sheet.

Next, ask students to identify patterns in the way the two pieces of tape interact and record these patterns on their activity sheet. (Note: Students do not need to use the terms attract or repel.)

Create a class table with three columns: T-T, B-B, and T-B. Ask one student from each pair to report their results on the class table.

Ask, "If we look at the class data, what patterns can we find?" You might ask students to turn and talk with their partner or small group before asking them to share their ideas with the class.

Then ask, "How could we generalize our observations?" (opposite sides always pull together/attract; same sides always push apart; repel)


Investigation Part 2: Tape and Magnets

Tell students they will now use a magnet in place of one piece of tape.

Ask, "Can you get the magnet and tape to interact in all the same ways as the two piece of tape?" Direct students to record any similarities or differences in behavior on their activity sheet.

When students have recorded their observations, ask, "What causes the T and B pieces of tape to move toward or away from each other?" Ask students to support their answers with relevant evidence from the data they have collected.

Investigation Part 3: Opposites Attract

Working in pairs or individually, ask students to use the Opposites Attract simulation to identify patterns in how two charged particles interact.

Say, "Think about how these patterns relate to the patterns you observed with the tape." Ask students to record observations in the way the spheres interact with each other on their activity sheet.

Ask students to share their observations and record them on a class poster. Observations might include:

  • When the spheres have the same charge, they move far apart.
  • When the spheres have different charges, they move together.
  • When one sphere has a charge and the other one doesn't, the spheres slowly move together.

Constructing an Explanation

Ask students to explain what might have caused the pieces of tape to interact.You might consider sharing this explanation organizer with students.

NSTA Collection of Resources for Today's Daily Do

NSTA has created a How will the charged objects interact? collection of resources to support teachers and families using this task. If you're an NSTA member, you can add this collection to your library by clicking ADD TO MY LIBRARY located near the top of the page (at right in the blue box).

Check Out Previous Daily Dos from NSTA

The NSTA Daily Do is an open educational resource (OER) and can be used by educators and families providing students distance and home science learning. Access the entire collection of NSTA Daily Dos.


The Interactions project was a collaborative effort between the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University, the Concord Consortium, and University of Michigan.

Photo credits: Hair Standing on End, Credit: Ken Bosma; License: CC BY2.0; Image Source: and Styrofoam packing peanuts sticking to cat; Credit: Brian Del Vecchio; License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0; Image source:

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