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  • What better way to motivate year 7 and 8 boys to learn than by studying fire? Dian Edmondson and her colleagues at Nelson College Preparatory School used the Science Learning Hub's fire resources as part of a cross-curricular teaching unit. The unit covered science, ethics, English and an LEOTC trip to the local fire station.

    Dian says, “We used four of the activities over four classes. Each teacher became proficient in one experiment.” These are the activities they used:

    • Drama in the microworld – Through their imagination, students travelled to the world of tiny particles, atoms, molecules and ions. They used drama to explore solids, liquids and gases, heat transfer, chemical change and the combustion process.
    • Light a candle – Students observed a candle flame to investigate the burning process. Concepts covered include complete and incomplete combustion, radiant heat, evaporation and diffusion.
    • The great candle experiment – This classic activity involved a lit candle with an inverted jar in a saucer of water. However, there’s a twist to the scientific explanation of old.
    • The flying tea bag – Students set alight an empty tea bag to learn about convection.

    In addition to the scientific ideas of combustion, fire detection and fire prevention, the fire resources on the site also cover the ethical issue of using fire retardants in furniture. Dian used the teaching activity Ethics in fire science to develop her students’ critical thinking skills through small group discussions.

    Literacy components were woven throughout the unit. The boys used research-based reading skills to locate, gather and select relevant information from articles on the Science Learning Hub site. Students paired up and used their research to compile PowerPoint presentations. During each presentation, the boys were encouraged to take notes and ask questions. They also made posters for display in the classroom.

    We will continue to use the Hub as it is teacher friendly and easy to navigate. The topics are relevant and the work has been done for us. The students find the site interesting and easy to use too.

    Dian Edmondson

    A trip to the fire station rounded out the unit. Dian tied the science, ethics and practical components of the unit together by asking the boys to write an information report. She offered them topic choices like ‘The life and times of a fireman’, in which students discussed training, risks and challenges firefighters face, and ‘The pros and cons of using fire retardants’.

    Next up, Dian and the team plan to continue with science and ethics, this time focusing on Conserving native birds.

    View the resources Dian used to teach about fire

    Download the Fire unit plan – it includes learning outcomes, key competencies, nature of science, tasks and assessment ideas.

    Investigating fire – introduction is a great plce to start for an introduction to the hub's fire resources.

    Visit the Ethics thinking toolkit for a collection of articles, frameworks, activities, guidance and an interactive to help you explore ethical issues in the classroom.

    Below are the five fire activities featured in this article:

      Published 15 February 2012, Updated 26 January 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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