Lesson plan


Do a series of activities involving combustion - a chemical reaction with oxygen that gives off heat.
Science content
Chemistry: Atoms, Molecules (3-7)
Chemistry: Chemical Changes (2, 7)
Physics: Heat (3)
Physics: Energy forms, Conservation of Energy (1, 3, 4, 5)

Define combustion: when a fuel reacts with oxygen, giving off heat.
A source of heat is needed to initiate combustion, and once it has started, it self sustains from the heat it produces.

Do the candle activity, or the jug, or both.

Using molecule models, students figure out the products of combustion.
With the candle and the jug, water condensate is found around the reaction site.

Candle see saw for more candle activities.

Optional: challenge students to light a campfire - what do they need? Fuel (paper then wood), oxygen (fire built properly to pull oxygen through it) and heat (lighter to start it).
Do flame colours in the campfire with copper sulphate, or on a camp stove.

Add other activities if time, reminding students that the fuel (whether candle wax, firewood, ping pong ball plastic or ethanol) reacts with oxygen to release carbon dioxide and water.

Grades taught
Gr 4
Gr 5