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How is Lightning made?

Have you ever seen lightning in the sky? It typically appears during big storms, or thunderstorms, but can be caused by a variety of natural occurrences. Do you know what causes this build-up of electricity? Let's learn about it!

During a thunderstorm, hundreds and hundreds of small ice bits, or frozen raindrops, violently bump into each other up in the clouds. As these particles rub together, they're creating an electric charge! Similar to what you experience when you rub a balloon on your hair or your socks across the carpet. While this is happening up in the clouds, the ground's electrical charge concentrates on anything that is sticking off the ground, like tall buildings, metal rods, mountains, or even people! Eventually, the charge in the clouds and the charge here on the ground connect which results in the bright lightning bolt that we see!

Thunder and lightning can seem scary but lighting does have some benefits! The incredible heat that emits from lighting joins nitrogen and oxygen in the air. This creates nitrates and other useful compounds. These nutrients fall down with the rain and provide our soil and plants the food it needs to grow!

Lighting Facts

  • Lighting can contain up to 1 BILLION volts of electricity!

  • There are bolts of lighting on Earth almost every second.

  • Thunder is the sound of lighting.

  • The fear of thunder and lightning is called Astraphobia.

  • You can see lightning up to 100 miles away!

Ready to learn about electricity? Our January STEM Kit has 5 hands-on activities that let you explore things like static electricity and how we power the items we use every day!


Our hands-on learning STEM Subscription Box will not disappoint! GIGIL STEM Kits are a great opportunity to bring STEM Education home in a fun and interactive way. Did you know GIGIL STEM Kits accept charter funds? If you'd like us to apply to become a vendor for your charter school, email us at!

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