Ben Franklin Risked His Life For Science

Whether you’re in grade four or grade eight, lightning is shockingly interesting. Benjamin Franklin risked his life to prove that lightning is electricity. What a homie!

Before we learn all about Ben Franklin, consider entering our Ben Franklin comic contest.

Lightning Creative Challenge

Draw a comic about how Benjamin Franklin dangerously discovered that lightning is electricity!

Lightning ⚡ Benjamin Franklin's Shocking Discovery Cozy Rainbow Podcast

How does lightning form? Why is thunder so loud? Why are we actually safe from getting struck by lightning? And most importantly… How did Benjamin Franklin survive after connecting his kite with lightning?  This week's creative challenge is to create a comic of how Benjamin Franklin discovered lightning. Visit for more information.  Free Benjamin Franklin Classroom Activities: — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:

What is Lightning?

Lightning is a bright bolt of electricity that shoots through the sky and down to the ground.

The air around lightning heats up almost instantly to 54,000 degrees F, or 30,000 degrees C– three times as hot as the sun.

When things heat up, the molecules begin to move faster and faster the hotter it gets. Just like how when water heats up, it will begin to evaporate and turn into a gas. 

lightning striking in the sky near a tree

Due to the extreme heat that lightning causes, the sound of thunder is created from the expansion and contraction of the air.

If you count the number of seconds between lightning and thunder then divide it by 5, you will get the distance in miles.

The odds of getting struck by lightning are 1 in 1.2 million. In your entire lifetime, the odds are 1 in 15,300.

Lightning forms when a negative charge in the clouds are attracted to the positive charge on the ground. The negative charge in the clouds comes from ice inside of the clouds rubbing together. 

What is the crystal that forms from lightning?

Fulgurite is a crystal that comes from lightning. Fulgurite is also known as “fossilized lightning.” 

Fulgurite is formed when lightning strikes sand or rock. When a hot strike of lightning at 1800 degrees celsius (at least) hits sand, a fulgurite crystal is formed.

Fulgurite is a crusty glass. Sand needs to get super super hot, and that’s how glass is formed.  

The fulgurite in the photo above was formed artificially.

How Benjamin Franklin Discovered Electricity

Benjamin Franklin was an American inventor from the 1700s. Although he did not invent the lightbulb, Benjamin was very interested in electricity.

Benjamin Franklin’s observations led him to believe that lightning is electricity. His observations were things like: color of the light, crooked direction and crackling noise. 

Many other people agreed that lightning is electricity, but Benjamin Franklin wanted to find a way to prove his hypothesis.

Metal is a great conductor for electricity- meaning that electricity can pass through metal very easily. 

Safety tip: Be careful not to touch the metal when plugging something in, like a phone, laptop or hair dryer.

Benjamin Franklin took a kite with a metal key attached to it, and flew it into the air during a thunderstorm. It was extremely dangerous, but Franklin did observe an electrical charge connecting with the key at the top of his kite.

Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod, which is basically just a very tall metal rod to stick out into the air, so that lightning will strike the rod and not a building.

You may recognize Ben Franklin from the $100 bill.

If you are ever in a storm with lightning, be sure not to go near trees or any other tall objects in nature. Lightning will typically strike the tallest thing in the area.

Classroom Resources

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Color and Cut Ben Franklin Printable
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Vocabulary Crossword Puzzle
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FREE Comic Paper Template