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Ben Franklin Kite

Have you ever wondered about the Ben Franklin kite story that you have heard? Did he really fly a kite during a thunderstorm? These questions and more will be answered in the following information about Ben Franklin and electricity.

About Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin Kite

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts and died April 17, 1790. He had practical experience in the newspaper business when he helped his brother print and sell pamphlets. Later, he wrote for “The New England Courant”, a newspaper his brother started. He had to write under a pseudonym because he thought his brother wouldn’t print his articles.

In 1723, Ben ran away to find work as a printer and became a printer’s apprentice in Philadelphia. Soon he was able to borrow money and start a business. His reputation grew and his business was successful. In 1729, he bought the Pennsylvania Gazette, which grew in popularity and featured political cartoons that he created. Poor Richard's Almanack began to be published in 1733 and included weather reports, predictions, and recipes. Many of Franklin’s famous quotes were published in the Almanack.

Franklin was very civic minded, helping to improve conditions in Philadelphia. By 1749, he retired from his business and spent his time experimenting and making inventions. He had already invented an efficient stove, which was called the Franklin stove. Another interesting invention was bifocals. He is well known for so many things, like his inventions and witty remarks, but the Ben Franklin kite story is legend.

The Ben Franklin Kite Experiment

Ben Franklin was very curious about many things, including electricity. He wondered if there was electricity in lightning. In 1752, with the help of his son, he made a kite with a silk string that had an iron key attached to the end of it. They attached a metal wire to the key and put the end of it into a Leyden jar, which can store an electrical charge. They also tied a silk ribbon to the key. He flew the kite as the storm grew near and went into the barn so they would not get wet. They observed the charges from the cloud travel down the string and go into the jar. Since Ben was holding the dry ribbon, the charges did not affect him. However, if he put his hand near the key, he received a shock like the static shock you get when walking across a carpet and touching something metal.

Because of this Ben Franklin kite experiment, Franklin realized that lightning could be charged over a conductor and diverted into the ground. So, the lightning rod and conductor was invented by Ben Franklin. He installed one on his own house and it saved his house from burning after it was struck by lightning. Franklin was actually very lucky that he was not killed during this dangerous experiment. After his experiment, some people tried to duplicate his results and they were electrocuted.

Ben Franklin continued contributing to science by explaining the flow of electricity. He figured out that electricity was made up of two opposing forces, hence the positive and electric posts on a battery. His research and experiments became the basis for the single fluid theory of electricity. In a battery, electricity flows from the positive terminal to the negative terminal.

Another contribution of Franklin’s was the coining of new terms concerning electricity, such as battery, conductor, condenser, charge, positively, negatively, plus, and minus.

Ben Franklin Trivia

Ben Franklin was a curious, intelligent and witty man. Here are some interesting facts and famous quotes:

  • Ben was a vegetarian from the age of 16, but gave it up later in life.
  • He played several musical instruments and invented the armonica, which is played by wetting your fingers and touching the edge of a rotating glass.

Famous quotes:

  • “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
  • “To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.”
  • “Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”