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    In this activity, students take a closer look at a candle flame as an example of a flame that occurs in most natural fires and observe and investigate the flame and the process of burning.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • appreciate the importance of observation (seeing and describing, not just looking) for scientists.
    • identify the components of a diffusion flame (in a candle)
    • develop ideas about the combustion process – the candle wax is melting, becoming a liquid, then the liquid vaporises into a volatile gas, which ignites when at ignition temperature.
    • understand that the white smoke contains these volatile gases
    • understand that black smoke contains unburnt particles – soot
    • understand that fire needs oxygenheat and fuel – depriving a fire from oxygen causes extinguishment.

    Download the Word file (see link below) for:

    • introduction/background notes
    • what you need
    • what to do.

    Nature of science

    Scientists observe phenomena very closely and carefully – seeing and describing everything – to help them understand what is happening.

      Published 18 November 2009 Referencing Hub articles