I am preparing to teach Grade 9 Static Electricity next week and am going crazy trying to figure out what is happening in one of my experiments. I have a short piece of PVC pipe, 4 inches diameter, and I rub it with wool to charge it negatively. I can observe excellent repulsion when I touch it with my foil bit (dangling from a thread). Here is the problem: I am holding down the PVC pipe down on a wooden base with two brass-plated wood screws, and these screws somehow collect an INSANE amount of positive charge, even when I am very careful not to touch them with the wool. The foil bit is strongly attracted to the screws, and when it touches them it bounces off more violently than anything I've seen in any of my other static electricity experiments.
Can anybody explain what I am seeing?