GRAND RAPIDS — Thunderstorms can be dangerous but also really cool to watch the lightning light up the sky. But how does lightning happen? Today's experiment we are going to create a lightning spark with just a few simple things!
Here is what you need:
-florescent light bulb
Step 1: Turn off the lights in the room. The darker the room the better!
Step 2: Blow up the balloon and rub it on your hair for several seconds.
Step 3: Hold the statically charged balloon near the end of the light bulb and watch!
The light bulb will spark! You just created lightning! Lightning is all about static electricity!
When you rubbed the balloon against your hair the balloon builds up an electrical charge which is static electricity! Now touching that charged balloon to the end of the light bulb made that electrical charge jump from the balloon to light bulb. This jump is what makes the light bulb spark!
Lightning works similarly in the atmosphere! Lightning is an electrical discharge within a thunderstorm. As a storm gets going the clouds become charged with electricity. Lighting happens when negative charges called electrons typically in the bottom of a cloud are attracted to the positive charges called protons. This interaction results in a spark causing our lightning! In a thunderstorm you mostly see the lightning within the cloud, down to the ground, to another cloud or even from the ground up to the cloud.
There you go! You created lightning right before your eyes! Send our meteorologist Candace Monacelli your pictures doing this experiments at home! She will feature future meteorologists on my Facebook page daily!