I’ve never had a table looking so pretty, all set up for an afternoon of science experiments!! We added a few (well, 10!) other candles as well to make it extra cosy 🙂 So this week is all about Candlemas, and the knowledge that with reaching the midpoint of winter, we are now on the way to Spring. I will write more about this theme in our subject overview in a post later in the week, but for now, lets get talking about the cool candle experiments!
The first experiment, was to look at using heat as a source of power. There are multiple DIY ways of setting this up along the same principles, but why bother when you have a very pretty, tinkly noise making angel construction that does the same job?! We set it up and lit the candles. Then we sat back and waited for the spinning angels above to gather momentum, and spin faster and faster. We discussed the heat’s role in the result, and the fact it was providing energy. We also took candles away to see what would happen, having tried to predict it first (it slowed down), and then put them back again, for it to get faster once more.
We then moved on to an experiment to look at what fire needs to burn. We used 6 candles and 6 jars/glasses of varying size. You can use as many or as few as you want (I have three children, meaning they could do 2 each….need to think these things through to prevent even more arguments in the day!!). We chatted about what fire needs to burn (fuel and oxygen), and what they thought would happen if we put the jars over the candle. We then put one jar over one candle to demonstrate it going out after it had used the oxygen up in the jar. Next, we lined the jars up, and decided which ones would allow the candle to burn for the least amount of time, through to the one that would allow it to burn for the longest. This, in itself, was interesting for them to do, as it made them think about the capacity inside the jar, not just how tall or short it was. I’d deliberately chosen tall thin jars, and short wide ones 🙂 I’m amazed to say, with much diplomatic discussion (that’s amazing in itself!) they came to the right conclusion, as we used a stop watch to time how long each candle took to go out. They were very chuffed with themselves!
Next up was the thirsty candle experiment. I placed a candle on a dish of water (we put food colouring in too, so it was more easy to see…..oh, and prettier!). We then lit the candle. Next we discussed what would happen if we placed a glass over the top, and could we get the candle to drink the water 😉 At this point all three thought I’d gone more than a little mad, so I showed them. While the candle was alight, the warmer air in the jar took up more room. However, once it had used the oxygen up and gone out, the candle sucked the water up into the inside of the jar…..well the science of the situation did! As the air cooled, the air took up less space in the jar, so the air pressure inside the jar dropped, and drew in water from outside trying to equalise the pressure. The children didn’t quite believe it the first attempt, so we repeated it quite a few times!
The last experiment certainly had the wow factor for them. We lit a candle stood in a bowl of cold water, and held up by a lump of blue tac in the base. We then left it to its own devices for a few hours. On returning, what we found remaining, was a hollow tube of wax. The water had absorbed the heat energy from the candle, so once that had dissipated into the water, it didn’t affect the outside of the candle anymore, which was then kept cool.
They loved today and we had lots of fun. We hope you will give some of these a go, and enjoy trying them 🙂
The Nature Curriculum we use is, “Exploring Nature with Children. A complete, year-long curriculum”. It is a beautifully written framework, written by Raising Little Shoots, and can be found over at https://raisinglittleshoots.com/ It suggests a topic for the week, and then provides some background information and suggestions for nature journaling and outdoor exploring. It also provides a comprehensive suggested reading list (fiction and non-fiction) for each week, plus a poem and a piece of art to study. There are extensions activity ideas too. We use the topic as the theme for our week, and follow the ideas for our journaling, and one fiction book. What we have been doing from the curriculum can be found on our curriculum overview post. The craft, science, maths, and English ideas we have researched ourselves to fit in with the theme 🙂 This makes a learning a lot more nature based.