Ben Franklin’s Curious Kite Ben Franklin’s Curious Kite
BeeOasis Step 4 (Part 1) “Quick! It’s stormy outside! Maybe there will be thunder and lightning! Get the kite, and let’s go fly it... Ben Franklin’s Curious Kite

BeeOasis Step 4
(Part 1)

“Quick! It’s stormy outside! Maybe there will be thunder and lightning! Get the kite, and let’s go fly it in the storm!”

Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation

Photo by GPTMC

Imagine hearing these words from your father. You might think going out to play in a storm is fun, or you might think it is scary, or maybe you will think that your father has lost his mind.

As a responsible adult, you will think a father who says this is out of his mind. Why would he do such a thing?! If he’s not crazy, what would motivate a man to go fly a kite in a storm?

But there is one possible answer. Curiosity! Maybe the father had a serious question that he wanted to ask. Maybe he just had to know something. And this is exactly what happened in real life. This father, Benjamin Franklin, wanted to know something about lightning.

And when he wanted to know something, Ben Franklin asked questions. He was a curious man. That is the way that he came to know so many things. He knew how to ask questions about everything. By flying a kite in a storm, he was asking a question. And the storm clouds and lightning gave him an answer.

Before the time of Franklin, people did not know what lightning was. They did not know what made the thunder. Franklin thought much about it, and he came up with a question. His question was simple. Is lightning the same as electricity?

For people livingFranklin'sKite in today’s world, this question seems very simple. We know the answer. We live in a world full of electricity. We use electricity to power our cities, to light our homes, and to move our trains and even our cars. But in Ben Franklin’s time, people did not have this power, and they knew very little about this strange thing that we call electricity.

In Franklin’s time, electricity was a novelty, an unusual thing that people didn’t understand. When Franklin saw electricity in action, in the form of little sparks, he thought it acted like small flashes of lighting. He thought that the little cracking sound of these sparks was a kind of baby thunder.

Then one day he decided to catch a little bit of lightning. Perhaps he could put it into a bottle that was used to hold electricity. (These bottles were called Leyden Jars.) If the lightning behaved like electricity, he would know the answer to his question. But catching lightning is not easy. So how do you think he did it?

Now we see the reason for the kite . . .

Go to Part 2

Click here to read a Step 3 version of this story.