How to Make Lightning
Have you ever wanted to be a mad scientist? Has your lack of control over lightning disheartened you? Never fear; this experiment will let you bend electricity to your will by showing you how to make lightning!
- Rubber glove
- Plastic fork
- Tin Foil
- Wood or plastic cutting board
- Styrofoam plate or rubber balloon
- Head of hair or wool
- Cool, low-humidity day (< 45% humidity, < 75 F temperature)
- Fold tin foil around your plastic fork so that it looks like a big spatula. Make sure it’s as flat as possible with no sharp corners.
- Put on the rubber glove and use your gloved hand to rub the Styrofoam plate or rubber balloon on your hair or wool.
- Place the plate or balloon on your cutting board, and use the gloved hand to pick up your tin foil spatula.
- Place the tin foil part of your spatula on the balloon or plate. Touch the foil with your other hand. What happened? How can you explain what you saw?
- Pull the spatula up from the balloon or plate, and touch it again. What happened this time? Did you expect that?
- Experiment with other materials. Recharge your charged object using your hair or wool if necessary. Does your hand spark when it touches the balloon? Why do you think this is so?
Extra: for even cooler results, conduct this experiment in a room that you can darken as much as possible!
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.