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  1. #1
    Grandma broke her coccyx! Uncle Rico's Avatar
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    Need Help With Science Experiment Using Fire
    My daughter needs to run a science experiment that tests the ability of different household materials to put out fires. Materials like water, flour, milk, etc.

    My problem is that I don't know how to run this experiment when it comes to the fire source. Clearly, I need to do this outside. I need to run this experiment 5 times in a row using a different material each time. I need to create the same fire each time.

    Any ideas on the firs source that I should use?

  2. #2
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    old phone books? or magazines or some heavy paper material in a metal bucket

  3. #3
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    Get the starter fire logs and cut them into pieces, they light quick and should produce the same fire each time.

  4. #4
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    does she have to demonstrate this in school or only report her findings, but even more important: how old is she?


    I guess small equal portions of fire logs would work.

    put baking soda on the list of suppressants

  5. #5
    Grandma broke her coccyx! Uncle Rico's Avatar
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    Herb,

    She does the experiment at home, but gives her findings in class. She is 10 years old.

  6. #6
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    Cool
    sounds like fun, but do it outside in a wind-sheltered area.

    the school should have given specific safety instructions. or one of the parents is due to own the school if something goes wrong.

  7. #7
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    Sounds like fun, but very dangerous science experiment for a 10 year old. The school should have given specific instructions on how to run the experiment.

    My 14 year old never had to do anything like that

  8. #8
    Full Member TerriFalcone's Avatar
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    Doing them outside and using a metal bucket for containment does sound about right. For a fire source I would use self starting briquettes and lighter fluid. Propane would be easiest for consistency but unless it is handled carefully could be very hazardous. How dare they give a project like that to a 10 year and then not even give instructions?
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  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador writerguy's Avatar
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    Do you actually live where you can do outdoor burning? Our city actually has some strict ordinances about no outdoor burning within the city limits.

    But -- if it were me, I'd go with the starter log chunks or the briquettes idea. That sounds like it would give you some consistent results anyway.

    I'm no scientist, nor have I ever played one on TV. (My son is a bona fide "rocket scientist," though. LOL!)
    Generate more fake news.

  10. #10
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    Here ya go ... get a metal bucket and a can of STERNO for the fire source.
    You might need a couple of Sterno cans since you might actually prevent it from
    being re-lit due to damaging the wick. You could also use a candle.

    Get a stop watch and time how fast it takes the flame to go out when you dump
    stuff in the bucket ... do not use gasoline to put out the fire.

  11. #11
    Full Member kayecee's Avatar
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    I'm a teacher... and all I can say about a TEN year old being given an assignment like that...

    YOU GOTTA BE FRIGGIN' KIDDIN' ME!!!!

    I would just about call the principal with that one. Srsly.... I wouldn't even give an assignment like that to my 15 year old! Even if they had included safety instructions, that has GOT to be one of the most irresponsible things that I've ever heard of. I know with our school district, there would probably be less than half the kids whose parents would actually get out in the backyard and help the kid out. The other half would be in the yard by themselves setting big piles of leaves on fire. Srsly....

    I'm sure our principal would have a cow and rake the teacher over the coals.... ESPECIALLY for something that the local tv station would have a field day with....

    *drags soapbox outta thread*

    That being said..... I think the metal bucket/fire starter logs would be the best idea.... that way you could make sure that the pieces are roughly the same size and you wouldn't have to worry about whether or not one fire had more starter fluid added or whatever..... I think a candle's flame would be too small to judge the results effectively.... keep a bucket of sand or a fire extinguisher nearby just in case of emergency....

    And good for you for being a good dad!

  12. #12
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    Do you have a BBQ? If you do I would use that especially if you have a kettle type like the Weber, you know the round black ones. Put in some trash like newspapers or other burnables and put it out. If you have a propane BBQ you could put down some foil over the burners and then build a fire over that. If the fire gets out of hand all you have to do is put the lid on. One thing I think that is good at putting out fires is baking soda.
    Have fun, be careful!

    Mm

  13. #13
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    Duraflame logs might be a good choice, because they can be sliced into sections for use in providing a modest flame, and each will burn somewhat consistently, making for a good test case with the various retardants.

    As for the safety aspect, I agree that caution is essential, but this is also a good opportunity to teach how to manage fire responsibly. I grew up in a place and time when a kid was given his first pocket knife around that age, and taught how to start and manage campfires, and many of us in our neighborhood were doing model rocketry before we were 12. All with close adult supervision, of course.

    Fire is such an essential part of life that as long as the risks are clearly communicated, and adult supervision insisted on until they are at least into their teens, it may be very useful. In fact, since this experiment focuses on how to put out a fire, it also opens the door to that discussion every family should have about planning for what to do in case of fire, which also helps them understand the risks involved.

    By the time I was 12 my folks had enough confidence in my safety practices that they let me do my own model rocket launches unattended. Today this might seem foolhardy, but in a rural community with lots of open land and a thorough reinforcement of safety awareness, this was not all that uncommon in my world. I learned a lot about trust and responsibility, about how those are never given but earned over time, and the lessons I learned about those safety practices helped develop habits that have contributed to a lifetime of self-confidence and self-reliance.

    Best of luck with the wonderful opportunity to help a young person learn many lessons about science and safety.
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  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    A ten year old doing fire experiments? Obviously she is in a gifted student program at MIT?

    At that age, I would avoid any kind of chemically enhanced fire source, such as sterno or chemically treated / charcoal lighter treated briquettes. At most she should maybe use a bucket with newspaper or how about an ever safer source like a candle? Same flame every time and easy to extinguish without any chance of sudden combustion.

    If she wants to turn in a really productive report, I'd suggest you call one of your local TV news stations to let them know about this project too. I bet they'd have a news crew out to interview the principal in no time.
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    This is just plain ridiculous, I would sue the school

  16. #16
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    from a girl scout mom :-)
    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourButts
    Any ideas on the firs source that I should use?
    I would use votive candles. You can buy boxes of them cheap at a store like Michael's.

    My daughter is also 10. In her GS troop, we've already introduced the girls to fire safety and have let them help us start cook fires. So I don't think that's too young for working with real fire -- although more explicit instructions from the teacher would probably be a good idea -- not for the kids but for the parents --that's who I'd be worried might burn something down

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