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Projects and science

This week, I did a lesson with a home ed group on making fire.

We had decided to do lessons about the science of things going back in time, so I decided to go back to the beginning and start with one of the earliest inventions. It was good timing as I had also finished reading The Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age by Richard Rudgley.

There is plenty of science around building a fire. The first and most obvious is the fire triangle.

So I lit a candle and asked them what a candle needs to burn. the heat was obvious as it came from the match. the idea that you need oxygen came to tow of the four children, but once I put a glass over the candle and the fire had gone out, it became more obvious.

The hardest bit was the fuel. I have now realised that a candle is not the best way to highlight the fuel as some people may say that the wick is the fuel. the fuel is from molten wax that is absorbed by the wick and then burnt in the wick.

Once we had established the things that fire needs, we decided to build a fire.

Two of the children had done a lot of camping and knew a few things about building fires - they knew that they had to use small sticks and that they should use the teepee method, one of the better ways of building a fire.

This was the perfect time to make a link.

We linked the teepee campfire to how it helped a fire get the most heat, fuel and oxygen possible, sticking in a reference to surface area, which comes up a lot in biology and chemistry GCSE. Since the children I was working with were younger, I did a simplified version involving snap cubes. I gave each child 8 snap cubes connected in a cube face and got them to count the number of cube faces (24). Then they broke them up and counted the number of cube faces then (48).

I linked this into why you always start a fire with tinder, then kindling and then add the large branches.

We finished off with lighting out fire together which went great and then talked about how to put out fires and which parts of the fire triangle each method removes.

Some of us tried to use a bowdrill. I managed to get some smoke, but now glowing embers. Bow drills are hard work.

in my research, I found a great lesson on fires here.

The sheet I used is here.

Have a great week everyone!

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