Static Electricity & Lightning
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Static Electricity & Lightning A WebQuest for 5th Grade Science Designed by Tom Gaska. Introduction

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Static Electricity & Lightning

A WebQuest for 5th Grade Science



Tom Gaska

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Have you ever gotten a static shock? Have you ever seen a lightning storm and watched it with awe or fear? What is static electricity? Where does it come from? How is it related to lightning? As you explore this webquest you will learn the answers to these and many more questions about static electricity and lightning. This webquest is an interactive site for 5th graders that explores the basic concepts of static electricity and lightning. After exploring this webquest, you will learn what static electricity is, how it is related to lightning as well as safety rules involving lightning. Good luck exploring and have fun!

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The Task

The weather over the past few months in your town has been very severe. There has been more lightning storms than anyone can ever remember. The Mayor is very concerned that someone may get hurt, or worse, if they are struck by lightning so he has decided that safety posters need to be placed all over the town to help educate the citizens on how to stay safe.

The Mayor has come to your school and asked the Principal to select a group of students to design Lightning Safety Posters. Your class has been chosen to make the posters because of your exemplary grades in science. The Principal has also decided that it may be fun to have the class divided into groups so that several different posters are available for the public good.

Several web-sites have been selected for you to investigate static electricity, lightning and lightning safety. After exploring the web-sites and learning about static electricity and lightning you and your team will design and create a Lightning Safety Poster.

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  • The Process

  • You will work together in teams of four.

  • Each person on the team will have a specific job.

  • Brainstorm what roles are needed and who will fulfill those roles.

  • Decide how you are going to collect your information from the internet. (note taking, mapping, etc.) 

  • At this point, share your information with your teacher before you continue.

  • Once you have the OK from your teacher, you need to research static electricity and lightning and also perform experiments using the web sites listed below.

  • Any changes made in the process  must be OK'd by your teacher.

  • Create a poster for lightning safety.

  • Below you will find web sites to help you in your research: 

  • Research Web Sites

  • Science Made Simple – Static Electricity

  • Boston Museum of Science – Lightning

  • Learning Physics Today - Lightning

  • Experiment Web Sites

  • Exploratorium Charge

  • Exploratorium Roller

  • Science Made Simple

  • Nova Online

  • Nova Online

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Congratulations on your posters! The mayor is very pleased with your efforts creating your posters but, more importantly, with how much you have learned about static electricity, lightning, and lightning safety.

Now that you have learned what static electricity is and how it is related to lightning you may find yourself investigating other phenomena in our world and how it relates to other similar phenomena.

As you find yourself questioning these phenomena remember to look at the facts that others have found and hopefully you will be able to add to the knowledge we have available to us!

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Credits & References

This webquest is based on a trade book review of Lightning by Seymour Simon (ISBN 0-688-14638-4).

For more information on webquests or to obtain templates for a webquest visit the San Diego State University webquest page.

Pictures used in this webquest came from the following web pages:

University of Amsterdam

University of Washington

University of Wisconsin

Labette County, Kansas, Governmental Web Site

National Geographic