Lightning


Barbara J. Feldman

Although it has been studied since the eighteenth century, the mystery of what causes lightning has not been completely unlocked. Beautiful to behold, but occasionally deadly, lightning is a force of nature that must always be taken seriously. Learn more about the science of lightning and lightning safety at the following sites.

  • Education for Geo-Hazards: Lightning Strike!5 stars

    "When you first see lightning or hear thunder, activate your emergency plan. Now is the time to go to a building or a vehicle. IF OUTDOORS ... Avoid water, high ground & open spaces & all metal objects including electric wires." Lightning is just one of the geo-hazards addressed in this safety site for kids. Be sure to practice the lightning crouch, it is the safest way to "hide" if you are stuck outside and can not find shelter. In addition to the multimedia site, you can download the hazard preparedness book in PDF.

  • National Geographic Kids: Lightning: the Shocking Story5 stars

    National Geographic shares "electrifying stories" and "shocking facts" about lightning in this site for elementary and middle-school students. The site is divided into science (Flash Landing), survivor stories (I was Struck By Lightning), and a small photo gallery. Additionally, there is an interactive quiz (linked from the table of contents page), a printable word game, and a static electricity experiment. The latter two can be found on the More to Explore link.

  • NOAA: NWS Lightning Safety for Kids5 stars

    This kids page from the National Weather Service is a collection of lightning games, most of them printable. Highlights are a printable crossword puzzle, two printable word search puzzles, and two printable coloring books. But my favorite click is Owlie Skywant's Lightning Ahead, a seven-page activity book which includes quizzes, fill-in-the-blank worksheets, coloring pages, and advice on what to do during a lightning storm.

  • The Physics Classroom Tutorial: Lightning4 stars

    For high-school students, this physics lesson from Glenbrook High School explains the causes of lightning strikes and how lightning rods work to protect buildings. "The precursor of any lightning strike is the polarization of positive and negative charges within a storm cloud. The tops of the storm clouds are known to acquire an excess of positive charge and the bottom of the storm clouds acquire an excess of negative charge."

  • Sky Diary KIDSTORM: Lightning5 stars

    KIDSTORM illustrates step-by-step how lightning is formed in a storm cloud, what thunder is, and introduces the rarely seen lightning called red sprites and blue jets. The article concludes with lightning safety advice, and a link list of related sites. "So how do you stay safe? Experts recommend the 30/30 Rule. As soon as you see lightning, count the seconds until you hear thunder. If the number is 30 seconds or less, seek shelter. Stay under cover until 30 minutes after the last audible thunder or visible lightning flash."

  • By October 7,2008

  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!



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