Science Sunday: Wildfires

Science Sunday
As I mentioned on Friday, we’ve had wildfires galore here, and it’s been the topic of conversation off and on all week long.  I just found this great article about talking to your kids about major events, and having read over it I’m glad I handled this the way I did.

Goal: to learn how fires spread and how to put them out.

Supplies: large non-flammable pan (I used a glass pyrex pan), paper, matches/lighter, water, baking soda

First I talked with the kids about the  fires in the area and did a lot of reassuring them that the fires are not currently anywhere near our house.
Then I put a piece of paper in the pan and lit it on fire in several places.  We discussed how the fires burn, and it doesn’t always go in a straight line, or where you expect, how there are some places that aren’t burned at all, and then some that are completely destroyed.

Next we talked about how the fires wouldn’t spread as much if there’d been even a little rain.  So I got the paper a little wet, and it burned some, but for the most part it didn’t burn very much.  This is why we’ve been praying for rain.

After that I talked about how if it had been raining A LOT that would be even more protection, and I completely and totally soaked that paper.  There wasn’t a dry spot anywhere.

It never caught fire.  I tried and tried and it wouldn’t catch fire.


Next we tried different ways to put out the fire.  First we did the way everyone expects and poured water on it.  The fire went out like a light.

Finally we talked about how some fires can’t be put out by water, but need chemicals and we poured baking soda over it.

We also could have tried smothering it, but I thought this was a good way to go about the lesson since the others required being nearer to the fire and the kids were already starting to turn this into a play session.

Which then led into a fire safety lesson………….

11 thoughts on “Science Sunday: Wildfires

  1. What a great experiment!!! I tried to link up… but for whatever reason it wont go through.. i will try back later… and hopefully my entry doesnt show up like 3 times randomly 😉

  2. I'm glad you included the baking soda lesson! When Mike and I were in our first apartment, the couple across the hall had a grease fire that they threw water on. It got bigger and bigger. Their entire kitchen was in flames by the time the alarm went off and we found them. They were still throwing more water on it, when there was a fire extinguisher right outside their door. I handed them the extinguisher and we got out of the building. They refused to leave until their fire was out. Luckily the extinguisher worked and nobody was hurt – apart from their apartment, which had to be completely gutted.

  3. Great lesson. We also have fires burning around here, not to the magnitude as you have them in Texas. Ours are in terrains though that make it very hard for the firefighters to get to.

  4. What a great lesson. We had some fires in our state this year, but luckily nowhere nearby. We did have a few days of heavy smoke though. I can't imagine what it's like there.

  5. How fascinating for your children to actually see the different ways a fire can be put out.

    Are you able to organise a trip to your local fire department (when the fires settle down) to complement this?

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