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Burning Issues


Source Institutions

    Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

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Burning Issues

Learners use a candle to investigate the products of combustion. When a glass rod is held over a lit candle, the candle flame deposits carbon on the rod. Then the candle and a drop of pH indicator are covered by a glass jar. Water vapor condenses on the sides of the jar, and carbon dioxide gas reacts with the water in the indicator to form carbonic acid. The candle goes out, and the indicator changes colors to show the presence of an acid. The combustion reaction of a candle is similar to the burning of wood or gas. Combustion reactions are responsible for some types of environmental pollution, including smog. Use this activity to introduce learners to combustion as well as greenhouse gases and global warming. For safety reasons, this activity works best as a demonstration for younger audiences.

Quick Guide


Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity

Language:
English

Materials List (per group of students)


  • One votive candle (keep 3 on hand)
  • One petri dish
  • Two 4-inch glass rods
  • Two caps from small dropper bottles
  • One 30-ml dropper bottle
  • Bromthymol blue
  • One large glass jar with a neck small enough to fit inside the petri dish cover
  • One butane lighter or box of matches
  • Paper towels
  • Two plastic beakers

Subjects


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Acids and Bases

Informal Categories


  • Nature and Environment

Audience


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Other


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access

By:

Rights:

  • All Rights Reserved, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, ©1997

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation

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