Stormy Weather Activities

Natural Math Activity

Have a stopwatch handy to measure how far lightning is from you.
Have a stopwatch handy to measure how far lightning is from you.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

It doesn't take a weather forecaster to calculate how far away lightning is. Try this natural math activity and let kids see for themselves.

What You'll Need:

  • Stopwatch or watch with a second hand

Where there is lightning, there is thunder. Since light travels faster than sound, you see the flash before you hear the sound. You can use the thunder to figure out how far away the lightning is.

Watch for a flash of lightning. When you see it, use a stopwatch or second hand to count the seconds between the flash and the thunder that follows it.

Write down the number of seconds, and divide that number by five.The answer tells you how far away from you the lightning was in miles.

Did you know that not all lightning bolts touch the earth? In fact, two-thirds of all lightning occurs between clouds or within the same cloud.

But that doesn't mean it's safe to go out in a thunderstorm! During a storm, avoid tall objects (like trees) and don't touch anything metal.

You s­hould also stay away from electrical appliances, telephones, and water until the storm is over.

Discover what happens to the world outside when the rain starts to pour on our next page.

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