Benjamin Franklin About Electricity: The Truth Might just SHOCK you!

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Celebrate National Electricity Day

June 15th is National Electricity Day. It’s a great time to look at the famous story surrounding Benjamin Franklin about electricity! Where would we be without electricity? Quite literally in the dark! Many elementary school students learn that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity in 1752 when his kite was struck by lightning in a storm. This is a GREAT story, but it simply isn’t true. Ask George Washington after he’s done chopping down the cherry tree. (another great story that simply isn’t true!)

National Electricity Day honors Ben Franklin’s kite experiment and what was learned about electricity as a result. It does not, however, celebrate the invention of, or discovery of electricity.

Who Actually Invented Electricity?

No one person “invented” electricity. Electricity is a form of energy and it exists in nature. Electricity had to be discovered, like gravity! Pinpointing exactly who discovered it, can be tricky. The Ancient Greeks discovered in about 600 BC that when they rubbed fur on fossilized tree resin there was an attraction between the two. This was static electricity. Archaeologists in the 1930s discovered pots with sheets of copper inside. These may have been ancient batteries meant to produce light. The ancient pots were discovered at archaeological sights of both the Romans and the Persians.

By the 17th century, the discoveries related to electricity were multiplying! In fact, Ben Franklin’s kite experiment used what is called a Leyden Jar. This jar was invented in 1745 specifically to collect and store electricity. By 1752 when Ben Franklin came into the picture he was able to prove that lightning and tiny electric sparks were the same things.

Spoiler alert – if Franklin’s kite had been struck by lightning, he likely would have died.

This kite template is a perfect preschool craft you can use while learning about Franklin’s kite experiment.

Advancements in discovery continue when in 1800 Alessandro Volta constructed an early electric battery. His battery produced a steady electric current. This made Volta the first person to create a steady flow of electrical charge. By 1831 electricity could be created in a practical way – opening the door for American inventor Thomas Edison and British scientist Joseph Swan. In about 1878 they each invented the incandescent filament light bulb in their respective countries. Light bulbs had been invented before this by others. The incandescent bulb was the first practical bulb that would remain lit for hours. You can learn more about Thomas Edison and the light bulb by reading: National Inventors Day

Ben Franklin’s Kite Experiment

The details of Ben Franklin’s kite experiment are available in a fact-filled resource for you: FRANKLIN & THE KITE: LAPBOOK, NOTEBOOK, OR MINI BOOK. This curriculum is suitable for learners in grades 3 and up. There is both a video and Informational Text. You can use either or both to complete the activity. As a BONUS there is a Word Study included because Franklin is responsible for coining several words related to electricity.

Visit the Homeschool Holiday Shop or your favorite teacher marketplace to purchase.

Thanks for stopping by Happy Hive Homeschooling to learn more about the famous story surrounding Benjamin Franklin about electricity!

You can learn more about Benjamin Franklin and the interesting reason he has 2 birthdays in this post: CELEBRATE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S BIRTHDAY WITH ACTIVITIES FOR KID INVENTORS’ DAY

Interested in the History of Energy and Power? You’ll love this blog post by the team at Save on Energy.

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