Ben franklin lightening rod

Words: 401-500

Skills: Character Traits Summary

Grades: 3rd 4th

Topics: Historical Fiction

Genres: Prose

Lexile Range: 420L - 730L

Lexile Measure: 600L

CCSS: Reading: Literature

Themes:

Ben Franklin and the Lightning Rod


Benjamin Franklin was a lot of things during his life. Some of the things he’s most remembered for was being an inventor and scientist. One of his inventions was the lightning rod. It was created to protect homes and buildings from fires resulting from direct lightning strikes. Students will read this fictional account of Franklin's discovery and answer questions on story details and character traits.

Reading Comprehension Passage

Ben Franklin and the Lightning Rod

Ben Franklin raced from his house. A nearby home burst into flames during a lightning storm.

Ben put his hand on his neighbor shoulder. “Thomas, there’s got to be a way to prevent homes from going on fire when hit by lightning.”

Thomas burrowed his brows. “Don’t think it’s possible. How do you control lightning? But, you’re a scientist and inventor, if anyone can figure it out, you can. ”

Ben put his hands in his pockets and went back into his home. He knew lightning was a form of electricity from his experiment with the kite. Ben tied a key to the kite and sent it up during a thunderstorm. The lightning struck the key which confirmed that lightning was electrical.

“Hmm. If the metal key attracts the lightning, maybe something can be made to attract it and divert it from harming homes.” He sat at his desk and started writing notes.

The next morning, Ben went to this office. “Good morning, William. We have work to do. Take these notes. Let me know what you think.”

William took the notes from Ben and sat at his desk. After a while, he scratched his head. “Ben, I think you have something here. We just have to figure out how to divert the lightning through the rod safely to the ground.”

“Yes, yes. That’s the dilemma.” Ben began to jot down more notes. “What if . . . no, that won’t work.” He jotted down some more notes then got up and paced the floor.

Ben stopped short and threw his arms in the air. “I’ve got it! We’ll divert the electrical current with a wire. The lightning will strike the rod then the current will travel through the wire right into the ground. This will prevent the sparks from the lightning causing a fire.

Ben and his assistant began drafting images of rods and wires to be put on top of buildings. When they felt their design was perfected, they went to work building it. Ben took it home to test it out.

Each day, Ben looked for a brewing storm. He decided to test it out on his own home before making it available to others.

Finally, a thunderstorm brought heavy winds, torrential rain, and lots of thunder. Ben stood inside the tool shed watching and hoping for a direct hit.

BOOOOOOM.

A strong lightning bolt hit the rod. Ben held his breath and watched. Then he breathed a sigh of relief. It worked! The house was safe.

After that night, Ben started producing lightning rods and wires. Soon, they could be seen atop many buildings and homes. They were so effective that a very large one was constructed on the dome of the State House in Maryland.


Passage Only

Reading Comprehension Questions

1. What event in the story encouraged Ben Franklin to create something that would protect homes from lightning strikes?



2. What characteristic do you think Ben had that made him want to create something to protect homes?



3. What was Ben’s idea and what was the problem he had to solve to make it work?



4. Whose house did Ben test the lightning rod on. Did the lightning rod work?




Vocabulary List

Vocabulary List


Each of the vocabulary words below are used in the reading passage. As you read the passage, pay attention to context clues that suggest the word’s meaning.

  1. form
  2. confirmed
  3. attract
  4. divert
  5. dilemma
  6. drafting
  7. torrential
  8. effective

Context Clues

Context Clues

Using context clues from the sentences in the passage, underline the correct meaning of the word in boldface.


1) He knew lightning was a form of electricity from his experiment with the kite.

a. part      b. structure      c. type       d. drawing

2) The lightning struck the key which confirmed that lightning was electrical.

a. denied      b. supported     c. refuted      d. disproved

3) “Hmm. If the metal key attracts the lightning, maybe something can be made to attract it and divert it from harming homes.”

a. pull toward      b. push away from     c. harness      d. collect

4) We just have to figure out how to divert the lightning through the rod safely to the ground.”

a. turn toward      b. turn away from      c. stop     d. send up

5) “Yes, yes. That’s the dilemma.”

a. experiment      b. question      c. easy solution      d. difficult choice

6) Ben and his assistant began drafting images of rods and wires to be put on top of buildings.

a. taking       b. photographing      c. sketching      d. collecting

7) Finally, a thunderstorm brought heavy winds, torrential rain, and lots of thunder. Ben stood inside the tool shed watching and hoping for a direct hit.

a. seasonal      b. a small amount       c. an abundance      d. light

8) They were so effective that a very large one was constructed on the dome of the State House in Maryland.

a. easy      b. expensive     c. cheap     d. useful