Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wild and Wonderful Weather: Thunder and Lightning

This topic was fun to learn about, and these thunder and lightning experiments were two of our favorites from the entire unit.

Making thunder with a balloon...Did you know that the sound wave that is created when you pop a balloon is thunder on a teeny-tiny scale?

Making Lightning...I staged these photos for the blog because you actually have to do this in a completely dark (or as dark as possible) room. You rub the balloon on your head for at least 30 seconds and then touch it to the end of a flourescent lightbulb. The static electricity that is discharged causes the lightbulb to glow. It took us several tries to get the hang of it, but we all thought it was worth the trial and error...very cool experiment that got lots of oohs and ahhhs.

Reading List
Thundercake by Patricia Polacco (This one's going on our All-Time Favorites list.)
Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roll by Franklyn M. Branley (Let's Read and Find Out Science)
Thunderbolt: Learning About Lightning by Jonathan D. Kahl (good pictures of lightning and storm clouds)
How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by Rosalyn Schanzer

The Weather Wiz Kids site has lots of good info. on thunder and lightning, as well as other weather topics.

Just a couple more of these weather posts, and then I'll be done - I promise. And in case you're wondering, we finished with weather weeks ago. Now we're onto gardening...more on that soon. :)


  1. Great experiment! My kids will love trying this out.

  2. So funny. My son (7) wandered in as I was looking at this and he definitely wants to try these experiments. Also...he was quite intrigued with your Superman (7). He wants to know if he's just 7 or 7 1/2. He was thrilled that this is a homeschooled kid like he is. And then he wanted to know where you lived. I told him you lived in another state. Do you think your 7 would like a pen pal? Too funny. And then my 7 wants to know if he'll get an answer right away like a phone call or if it will take awhile like an email. These kids have too much technology for me.

  3. I can't wait to try this with my kids! What a great way to learn about thunder and lightning.

  4. My son played with balloons all day today, and he loves doing experiments. Thanks for the great ideas!

  5. OH that does sound fun. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Great post! Great photos! We always used to love to watch the electricity like that when we were kids too. My uncle used to put the birthday balloons on the wall for us. My children used to get under their blankets and watch the sparks too. ;)

    Thanks for your submission to the carnival this week. It is up and posted at my blog.

  7. Great idea! We're not studying weather right now, but this is worth going on a learning tangent.

  8. Thanks for the info! Even my 11yo will love to try this :).


I enjoy reading your comments and so appreciate them. It usually takes me a few days to reply, so thanks for your patience and for dropping by!