What is Static Electricity?  
Static electricity refers to the build up of electric charge on the surface of objects. The static charges remain on an object until they either bleed off to ground or are quickly neutralized by a discharge. Static electricity can be contrasted with current (or dynamic) electricity, which can be delivered through wires as a power source. Although charge exchange can happen whenever any two surfaces come into contact and separate, a static charge only remains when at least one of the surfaces has a high resistance to electrical flow (an electrical insulator). The effects of static electricity are familiar to most people because we can feel, hear, and even see the spark as the excess charge is neutralized when brought close to a large electrical conductor (for example, a path to ground), or a region with an excess charge of the opposite polarity (positive or negative). The familiar phenomenon of a static 'shock' is caused by the neutralization of charge. continue..

To understand the Van de Graaff generator and how it works, you need to understand static electricity. Almost all of us are familiar with static electricity because we can see and feel it in the winter. On dry winter days, static electricity can build up in our bodies and cause a spark to jump from our bodies to pieces of metal or other people's bodies. We can see, feel and hear the sound of the spark when it jumps In science class you may have also done some experiments with static electricity. For example, if you rub a glass rod with a silk cloth or if you rub a piece of amber with wool, the glass and amber will develop a static charge that can attract small bits of paper or plastic. continue..

You walk across the rug, reach for the doorknob and..........ZAP!!! You get a static shock. 
Or, you come inside from the cold, pull off your hat and......BOING!!! Static hair - that static electricity makes your hair stand straight out from your head. What is going on here? And why is static more of a problem in the winter?
To understand static electricity, we have to learn a little bit about the nature of matter. Or in other words, what is all the stuff around us made of? continue..

Static electricity is an electric charge built up on persons or objects through friction. It is most familiar as an occasional annoyance in seasons of low humidity, but can be destructive and harmful in some situations. When working in direct contact with integrated circuit electronics, or in the presence of flammable gas, care must be taken to avoid accumulating and discharging static electricity. continue..

Static electricity can be a problem whenever the humidity is low. It causes shocks and makes dust stick to surfaces, and it can literally make your hair stand on end. In this experiment, you will see that it also can move things around.
For this experiment you will need:
a nylon comb
a water faucet
Adjust the faucet to produce a small stream of water. The stream should be about 1.5 millimeters (1/16 inch) in diameter. continue..

Although static electricity can be a nuisance--like getting shock when you tough a doorknob or static cling on your clothes--it has a number of beneficial uses. The forces of attraction caused by static electricty are used in air pollution control, automobile painting, and xerography or copy machines.
Being curious, questions you may have are:
How can static electricity stop smoke stack pollution?
What happens to freshen the air?
How does a Xerox machine work?

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