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Elementary Science Education

What is fire?


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      Question: What is fire? This is a common question that comes up in connection with Lesson A-2.


      What do you experience as you observe fire? You see light and feel heat, do you not? These are forms of energy (see Lesson C-1). Therefore, fire is energy being given off by the burning process. The further question or puzzelment is: Where does this energy come from?

      It will be evident that in the burning process (combustion) the fuel is consumed. Whether or not, or to what degree, you get into the chemical reaction of combustion will depend on the age and background of your kids. The basic concept, in any case, is that fire is the release of potential energy stored in the fuel. That potential energy comes out in the kinetic forms of heat and light. The two would add up to the amount stored in the fuel. Do add that the fuel is NOT “turned into energy.” The fundamental particles of the fuel remain; they are mostly converted to gas form and go off in the air.

      Bernie Nebel

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