As part of our preschool science lessons, my kids have been learning about states of matter. As such, we’ve done a number of activities to learn about states of matter.
We’ve discussed how objects can be classified as solids, liquids, or gasses. We’ve also discussed how objects will transition from one state to another (e.g., from a solid to a liquid) under high temperatures. We previously looked at changes in state using water, ice, and steam. In this post I’m sharing how we looked at changes in state using a candle.
Note: For more activities that teach kids about solids, liquids, and gasses, see my states of matter unit study page.
First off, please note that my children were very closely supervised during this activity. They also understood before this activity began that they needed to be very careful in order to not get burned. Please use extreme caution when doing activities involving fire with your children.
I started by taking out a candle. We looked at the candle, and agreed that it was a solid. We came to this conclusion because the candle had a definite shape and a definite volume. (My kids and I had previously talked about these terms when I introduced states of matter to them.)
Once we agreed that it was a solid, I set the candle down and lit the wick.
Realizing I didn’t want to get candle wax on my cutting board, I then added some aluminum foil underneath. 🙂 Then I had my kids observe the candle closely to see what changes were taking place. In order to hone their observation skills, I encouraged them to describe what they were seeing.
We noticed that the wax was melting into a little puddle around the wick. To make it very obvious that the wax had turned into a liquid, I picked up the candle and dripped some of the wax onto the foil.
Of course, the wax quickly turned back into a solid as it cooled on the aluminum foil. Nonetheless, this little demonstration provided a great opportunity to talk about the fact that heat will change solids into liquids. And cooler temperatures will change liquids back into solids.
More resources for learning about states of matter
More states of matter posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Introduction to states of matter
- Books about states of matter
- Exploring states of matter with water, ice, and steam
- Balloon magic with baking soda
- Dancing raisins science demonstration
- Exploring air pressure