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Science Fun:
Making Homemade Lightning

This in an unusual experiment that kids will enjoy. Its great for going along with a unit study on weather, weather disasters, or for answering those questions about why it has to lightning and thunder. By discovering the why's of certain weather phenomena, you could also help take the fear out of a stressful reaction to storms that some children have.

Supplies:

A large iron or steel pot (not aluminum) with a plastic handle
Rubber gloves
An iron or steel fork
A plastic sheet

Directions:

1. Tape a plastic sheet to a table top.

2. Put on the rubber gloves.

3. Hold the large iron pot or pan by its insulating handle and rub the pan vigorously to and fro on the plastic sheet

4. Holding the fork firmly in the other hand, bring its prongs slowly near the rim. When the gap between pot and fork is small, a tiny spark should jump across (It may help to darken the room by drawing the curtains to see the spark more clearly)



Further Explanations: In a storm cloud, the moving air makes tiny water droplets and ice rub together so they become charged with static electricity. The positive electrical charges float up near the top of the cloud and the larger ones, with negative charges, stay near the bottom. This separation of electrical charges is very unstable and lightning is the way the charges are equalized or become balanced. It is as though the pan is the thundercloud, the fork is the lighting rod and you are the Earth's surface.

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