Benjamin Franklin For Kids


Michael Benton, Contributor

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benjamin franklin for kidsThe most eccentric and multitalented of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin facts for kids make for fun and interesting learning. Although Franklin never served as the President of the United States, his contributions to the culture and diplomacy of the nascent nation make him an important subject of early U.S. History. Besides being a leading diplomat in foreign relations, Franklin was an inventor, publisher, postmaster, satirist and scientist. Born in Boston in 1706, he had crafted his first invention by the age of 11; Franklin loved to swim and made himself a set of wooden flippers that he wore on his hands and feet. A relatable aspect of Franklin's life was his relationship with his illegitimate son William. Although Benjamin raised William with love and care, they developed very different political views. When the Revolutionary War broke out, Benjamin was a leading diplomat for the American rebels while William was the staunch loyalist Governor of New Jersey who despised the colonial traitors. Their relationship was so strained by the War that Benjamin could not convince William to stay in America after its conclusion. William fled to London where he begat his own illegitimate son, William Temple Franklin, who would be raised by his grandfather in Philadelphia.

When summarizing a Benjamin Franklin biography for kids, teachers often begin with his famous kite experiment. In 1752, after years of experimentation and hypothesis, Franklin set out to prove that lightning was indeed an electrical force. During a summer storm, he took a kite out into the rain with a copper key attached to it. By extracting an electrical charge out of the clouds and conserving it in the key, Franklin was able to return to his laboratory and transfer the electricity into a leiden jar (a chemical battery held in glass), thus proving that lightning was comprised of the same electricity as found anywhere else. His experiments with lightning also helped him understand how to prevent damage by controlling the path of electrical conduction so that it reached the ground. When listing Benjamin Franklin inventions for kids, the lightning rod is often near the top; by introducing the lightning rod to buildings throughout Philadelphia and the colonies, Franklin helped prevent many fires from lightning storms.

Benjamin Franklin's list of inventions includes many other interesting devices that demonstrate his genius and sensibility. As the Deputy Postmaster-General of North America under British rule, Franklin sought to bring efficiency to the delivery system. He invented an odometer which was attached to his carriage as he mapped the fastest routes between towns and cities; his model for delivery was so successful the mail service became profitable. In his later years, Franklin invented a few objects that greatly helped him to continue his studies; bifocals, a rotating library chair and a mechanical extension arm helped the elder statesman to save time in effort while navigating the tall shelves of books throughout his home. In Europe, Franklin's glass 'armonica' became so popular that Mozart and Beethoven composed music to be played on it.