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Weather experiment learning about thunder

Posted at 7:21 AM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 07:21:50-04

GRAND RAPIDS — Even though many of us woke up to snow on the ground this morning, Spring weather and even severe weather will be back before we know it. We are helping to get prepared and thinking about the stormy season with some weather experiments you can do at home with the kids.

Today starts severe weather awareness week throughout Michigan! I think the more kids know how a storms work helps anyone be less scared or even just enjoy this upcoming season. All you will need for this experiments is a brown paper lunch bag, a flashlight and stopwatch.

First lets make some thunder!

Step 1: fill up up the paper bag with air, twist the open end and close it with your hand
Step 2: with your free hand quickly hit the bottom of the bag making the bag pop and make a loud sound

You just created thunder! Hitting the bag so fast caused the air inside to compress and force pressure upon it then causes the air to escape and pop. Now that air continues in a wave eventually reaching your ear and you hear the thunder. This is exactly how real thunder sound works with storms. The lightning strikes and energy is given off that strike heating the surrounding air. That warm air quickly expands and sends waves right to your ear so you hear the thunder!

Secondly lets track the thunder storm!

Step 1: turn off all the lights and have one person click the flashlight on, then start the stop watch. Have another person pop the thunder bag we just made whenever they want after that flashlight gets turned on
Step 2: once the second person completes the thunderstorm with the thunder bag you stop the stopwatch and see how many seconds was between both events.

Every 5 seconds the storm is one mile away. Light travels faster than sound so in real life the lightning and thunder happen at the same time but the light hits us first before the sound can reach our ears.
In the spring or summer time of course you do this when a thunderstorm is moving through West Michigan, but for today try it at home with the flashlight and thunder bag!

Now you can make and track a thunderstorm all day long! Email your experiment pictures to our meteorologist Candace Monacelli at candace.monacelli@fox17online.com to be featured on her Facebook page!