What is lightning?
Experiment: Thunder and Lightning
Hypotheses: Ask children what lightning is. Also ask them if they know why we always hear thunder after lightning. Allow them to discuss the subject. It may be interesting to show them pictures of spectacular thunderstorms. These can easily be found on the internet.
- One small aluminum pie plate
- A ball of modeling dough
- A plastic grocery bag
- A metal fork
- Place the ball of modeling dough in the very center of the pie plate. Press down hard so the dough sticks to the plate. From this point on, you must use the ball of dough to hold on to the plate. Do not touch the aluminum with your fingers.
- Close all the lights. Make sure it is fairly dark in the room but that you can still see what you are doing.
- Deposit the plastic bag on the table. While firmly holding the pie plate by the ball of dough, vigorously rub it on the plastic bag for approximately one minute.
- Lift the plate. Bring the fork close to the side of the plate with your other hand. Do not let the fork touch the plate.
- Watch and listen. You recreated lightning and the soft rumble of thunder.
Explanation: You created static electricity by rubbing the plate and the plastic bag together. In nature, when there are sudden changes in temperature, clouds fill with water and are charged with this same static electricity. When a cloud is filled with too much static electricity, it must get rid of it. It produces an electrical discharge: lightning. Lightning is a spark identical to the one you created, yet much bigger. Furthermore, as you noticed during your experiment, lightning is always accompanied by sound: thunder. This sound is also identical to the one you produced, only louder.
You may be wondering why we always hear thunder a few seconds after lightning. Light travels through air faster than sound. Thunder and lightning occur at the same time yet the light from the lightning travels to your eyes faster than the sound of thunder travels to your ears.
For this reason, the shorter the length of time between lightning and thunder, the closer you are to the storm.
has a Bachelor's Degree in Biological Science. She has worked in a laboratory and tested her knowledge. She has taught Math, Chemistry, and Physics. She has also developed a simplistic and innovative approach designed to introduce young children to scientific experiments, old and new. She created her friend Globule. This character is sometimes red, and sometimes white. He guides little ones through their scientific experiments and discoveries. It is clear to see Angélique is passionate about children and science. Globule's Approach.