His most famous scientific experiment is the one in which he proved that lightning is electricity.
Ben had long suspected that this was true.
Because he noticed that lightning usually struck the highest parts of trees and buildings, he wished that Philadelphia had a big hill or tall building so he could get closer to the lightning.
Finally, it occurred to Franklin that he could get a
kite high up into the air and perhaps make
contact with the lightning. So one rainy day he
and his son launched a kite out in a field.
The kite was not made of paper because paper would fall apart when it got soaked with rainwater.
Instead, Franklin made the kite out of a silk
handkerchief. Silk would catch the wind well enough, and it would not fall apart when wet.
Franklin and his son moved to a shed when the rain
began to fall. Franklin tied a key to the kite string.
He held the string by another string made of silk that he kept dry, because he suspected that electricity would travel down a wet string and shock him.
When he observed lighting in the sky near his kite, Ben moved his hand near the metal key and felt a mild electrical shock.
This led to his invention of the lightning rod, which was soon saving many wooden houses from
burning down after being struck by lightning.
In fact, Franklin’s own house is said to have been saved from burning by a lightning rod.