Plasma Ball Activity:
Plasma is created whenever atoms of a gas are heated up therefore they are extremely hot. The atoms have so much energy that when they collide, the electrons get knocked off. Thus, plasma is a bunch of electrons and ions.
The plasma ball is a miniature Tesla coil. Inside the ball is a coil of wires that have a very high frequency current going via them. This signifies the electrons in the wires are oscillating very quickly. This shakes the atoms around the wires so hard that their electrons start to fall off and plasma is formed! Inside the glass globe is a partial vacuum. This just signifies that some of the air has been sucked out. Because there is not as much air in there, it is simpler to make electric sparks which can be seen.
1) Put your hand on the plasma ball. What happens?
2) Now bring the fluorescent light tube close to the plasma ball. What happens?
3) This step needs a partner. Stand on a chair or stool and put your hand on the ball. Now have your partner hand you the light tube. What happens? Experiment with distinct arrangements to see how many ways you can light the bulb. Be cautious to not touch the ends of the light tube – it gets hot!
4) Stand on the ground and try the (3) again. Does it work?
5) Put a penny on the top of the plasma ball. Cautiously touch the penny with the other penny. Do not use your finger – you’ll get a shock!
6) Use a multimeter to measure the electrical potential around the ball. Place one lead on the glass and move the other one around. Record the potential at different distances, taking sufficient measurements to map the area around the ball. Use your measurements to sketch the electric field around the ball.