Experimenting : The Franklin Way

In pursuit of figuring out a new “particular Phaenomena”, Benjamin Franklin set forth in his efforts in experimenting with what we know today as electricity. He wrote each of his steps down in a lengthy letter to Peter Collinson and explained why he was doing the specific things that he was.

As a class, we were allowed to do the same, in a quite simpler way. Professor Allison provided us with the materials that we needed, including balloons, wool cloths, tin foil, card board and wires. We then began to mimic the experiment on our own, rubbing pieces of wool cloth all over the balloons for minutes at a time and hoping that we would be generating some sort of electricity while we did so. To measure our success (or failure), we quickly constructed testers by cutting out a piece of cardboard, taping a short wire to it and wrapping the end of the wire with tin foil. After this was completed, we put this contraption close to the “charged up” balloons and looked to see if there was an electrical pull.

My experiment ended up being successful in the end as I noticed that there was a pretty large pull toward the contraption when it was near my balloon. The balloon that I used was relatively small (much smaller than almost everyone else’s) so I think that it was a lot easier for it to become charged up with electricity in a timely manner.

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