Benjamin Franklin and the Discovery of Electricity: A Common Myth Explained

The truth about the discovery of electricity that will make you laugh out loud
Benjamin Franklin did not discover electricity by flying a kite. He discovered it by getting electrocuted.


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The discovery of electricity is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. A story involves a kite, a key, and a storm. This story, however, is a myth. Franklin made his discoveries differently. Let’s uncover the truth.

For those in a hurry:

  • Benjamin Franklin did not discover electricity by flying a kite in a thunderstorm.
  • He was already familiar with the concept of electricity and wanted to test if lightning was a form of it.
  • He used a metal key attached to a silk string to draw electric sparks from the clouds.
  • He did not get electrocuted, but he felt a shock when he touched the key.
  • His experiment was risky and could have killed him, but it paved the way for further research on electricity.

The Kite Experiment: A Popular Myth of the Discovery of Electricity

A famous kite experiment is associated with Franklin. Though he did conduct experiments with kites, electricity wasn’t discovered this way. In reality, his research was methodical and complex. The story has thus been exaggerated.

The Real Way Franklin Contributed to the Discovery of Electricity

Shocked during his experiments, Franklin made observations. From the shocks, he learned about conductors and insulators. Consequently, he developed theories. Additionally, he coined electrical terminology. Overall, his work built the foundation for understanding electricity.

How the Kite Story Became Synonymous with the Discovery of Electricity

Exciting and simple, the kite story became popular. Over time, it turned into a symbol of curiosity and innovation. Historians and writers then amplified it. Eventually, a legend was born.

Franklin’s Inventions and Contributions Beyond Electricity

More than a scientist, Franklin was an inventor, writer, and statesman. For example, he invented bifocal glasses. Next, he created the Franklin stove. Ultimately, he made numerous societal contributions.

What We Can Learn from Franklin’s Approach to Discovery

Methodical and curious, Franklin questioned beliefs. Fearless of mistakes, he based his experiments on observation. Through reasoning, he made discoveries. His approach continues to inspire scientists today.


Franklin’s role in discovering electricity is multifaceted. Contrary to myths, he did not find electricity by flying a kite. An innovator and thinker, his real story inspires just as much.