Thursday, April 24, 2014

Challenge and discover weather science : forest fires

I started off thinking of a fire experiment to do to link to st George's day and dragons but then noticed the 'Challenge and discover : weather series from inspiration laboratories .

So I thought up a simple science experiment and then researched to find many others have done the same . I wasn't sure if my son of three was too young but others have tried it with his age before.

The Science 

Fire is a chemical reaction that creates light and heat from oxygen and fuel. A lit candle needs the oxygen from the air in order to continue burning. 
A fire triangle is a good way to teach kids the three things needed.

What can we investigate?
If you limit the amount of air available, the candle's flame eventually goes out once it uses up all the oxygen. 
A. science experiment that gives your child a chance to see this concept in action, with a little numeracy and literacy practice thrown in.

What You Need:

  • Tea candle
  • 4 glass jars in different sizes 
  • Matches
  • Permanent marker
  • Pen or pencil
  • Paper
  • Stopwatch

What You Do:

  1. Begin by explaining to your child that fire needs oxygen from the air in order to burn. Ask her what she thinks will happen if you limit a candle's oxygen supply.
  2. Light the candle and place one of your jars over it. Watch and wait until it goes out. Was this what she expected to happen? What does she think will happen if you place a larger jar over the candle? How about a smaller jar?
  3. Put the jars in a row from smallest to largest, and help your child write the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the sides in permanent marker.
  4. Ask her to estimate how long it will take for the candle to go out as you place each jar over it. Make a table like the one below to record her estimates.
Time Estimate
Actual Time
  1. Light the tea candle, and place the first jar over it. As you do so, have your child start the stopwatch. How long does it take for the candle to go out? Record the actual time next to her estimate.
  2. Repeat step four with the three remaining jars.
  3. Compare your child's estimate to the actual length of time each candle burned. Did she predict that the candle would burn longer under larger jars? If not, point the pattern out and explain that the more air inside the jar, the longer the candle is likely to burn.
If you run out of fuel then the flame will go out.
You can time how long a tea lighter and a birthday candle lasts . Little ones may get bored watching so a recording that the time frame can be altered maybe useful. 

If you remove the heat the fire will go out.
To demonstrate this you can spray water onto the flame.

You can also talk to them about what to go in an emergency.  Introduce the 'stop , drop and roll' advice and ask why does this work ? linking back to the triangle. 

You could also tell them the emergency services number 999 in the UK. Then role play what to do /say in an emergency. 

Remember to reinforce that today's activities were not a game and fire isms dangerous and not to play with matches .

You could also talk about fire fighters, fire extinguishers and usefulness of fire. 

Remember not to leave the flame unattended and supervise children with this experiment all the time. Have a bucket of sand near by incase it gets out off control.

I will add pics of our experiment . 

Sarah Shan 

This is the equipment set up. We only had three jars and I think two were the same volume by the results but never mind.

We started off talking about safety and I asked Dylan what we were going to do. He said add water to the jars and blow out the candles.

I turned the jar over and Dylan had to press the green button on the ipad stopclock when I said go and press the red stop button when he saw the candle had gone out.

After the first experiment we used water to remove the heat.

Then I showed him bush fires in Australia and explained why they happen .

Then back to fire saftey and what to do if his clothes catch fire. Then showed him a clip on youtube stop, drop and roll. Then we found the smoke alarms and talked about the emergency phone number to call 999. We role played this. I was the operator and Dylan was in need of the fireman Sam lol.

Im not sure if I planted ideas in his head of making fire fun but I tried not to and was quite serious and controlling around the flames to emphasise the danger. I will probably revisit this again in a couple of months to reinforce it.

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