Weather Experiments for Kids

Listening to Lightning

Listening to lightning teaches kids how far away that last bolt of lightning struck -- and it can make thunderstorms less scary for them.

What You'll Need:

  • Thunder

First, listen for the distant thunder -- the sound wave that travels from the center of the super-warmed air surrounding the lightning channel as it expands (like ripples in a pond when you drop a pebble in). But sound travels much more slowly than the flash of electric light -- about a million times slower. So when you see a bolt of lightning in the distance, start counting. For every five seconds that pass between the site of lightning and the sound of the thunder, the strike is about one mile away. Ten seconds? Two miles away, and so on.

Kids will discover how meteorologists track rainfall in the experiment on the next page.

For more fun activities and other crafts, check out: