Nov 10, 2012

Kites for scientific investigations and special occasions

Kites have been valuable scientific tools. The most famous experiment involving a kite was conducted by Benjamin Franklin during a thunderstorm in 1752. Flying a kite made of a silk handkerchief stretched on two cedar sticks, Franklin proved that lightning was the same as the electric current that flows through wires. (This was a very dangerous experiment; it could easily have killed Franklin!)

From the 1700's until the early 1900’s, kites were used to collect weather data. Thermometers, anemometers, and other instruments used to measure weather factors were attached to kites and launched into sky. Kites have also been used to tow boats and sleds and carry cameras into the atmosphere to take pictures of the Earth.

And kites are used to celebrate special occasions. In Japan, for example, people fly kites to welcome in the new Year and to celebrate Children's Day on May 5. In China, the Festival of Ascending on High is actually a celebration of the practice of kite flying. (The New Book of Knowledge by Grolier)