Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this activity students create their own ‘lightning’ by watching a spark that travels between a charged surface and a fork.

These Snappy Science resources have been created to boost science education in primary schools across Australia. Each lesson is designed to support teachers with the scientific knowledge, ideas and resources to stimulate a sense of wonder and curiosity in their students. Many of the big issues that Australian society will face in the future are around technology, energy, resources and climate change. All of these require students to engage with science – but most of all to enjoy science!

Science at Home: These Snappy Science resources can also be used to engage families in fun science and learning for life. You can download a student friendly version of this activity here and you can also check out the Snappy Science Digital Library.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Australian Curriculum content description: This activity is relevant to Science Inquiry Skills across all primary year levels of the Australian Curriculum.

Year 1 Science

  • Light and sound are produced by a range of sources and can be sensed (ACSSU020)

Year 6 Science

  • Energy from a variety of sources can be used to generate electricity (ACSSU219)

Syllabus OutcomesST1-6PW, ST3-6PW.

Time required: 5 – 10 minutes.

Resources required: Metal baking tray, modelling clay, plastic carrier bag, metal fork.

Safety advice: Discourage students from touching the metal tray when it is charged or charging.

Keywords: Lightning, static electricity.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation: 

Brief summary:

In this activity students create their own ‘lightning’ by watching a spark that travels between a charged surface and a fork.

Students can use the Predict, Observe, Explain table on the Student Worksheet to describe and reflect upon this experiment.

You will need:

  • Metal baking tray (small is fine)
  • Modelling clay
  • Plastic carrier bag
  • Metal fork

What to do:


Step 1. Take several handfuls of modelling clay and press them onto opposite sides of the baking tray to make simple handles (these don't need to be actual handles like you'd find on a pan - so long as you can lift the tray using the handles without touching the actual tray then they will be fine). From now on, don’t touch the baking tray itself; only touch the modelling clay handles!

Step 2. Lay the plastic carrier bag flat onto a table or bench. Holding the tray by the clay handles move the tray round and round on the flat bag. Don’t let the tray move off the bag!

Step 3. L

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Student Worksheet

In this experiment you will be making your own lighting using a fork, a plastic bag and a metal tray.


Explain what you think will happen:


Explain what happened:


Explain why you think this happened:

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