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What is Fire?

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The Importance of Fire—Explained for Elementary School

Fire has always existed. Along with air, water, and earth, it is one of the four elements without which no life on our planet would be possible. Have you already covered the topic of fire in elementary school science? The benefits, rules for handling fire, and its history are already discussed in detail in many elementary schools. Along with several positive aspects, fire can also be dangerous, and can destroy life. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a fire to get out of control. For example, a forgotten candle can set the whole house on fire.

The Importance of the Sun Explained

Fortunately for every living thing, there is the sun. Without it, the earth would be too cold to live on and there would also be no light. Although, in space, temperatures reach -450 degrees Fahrenheit ( -268 °C), the enormous power of the sun manages to warm the earth to pleasant temperatures. This made life on earth possible in the first place. However, when it is very hot and dry, these sun rays can also become dangerous and start forest fires, for example.

How Humans Discovered Fire

In addition to the sun, there were already volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago, in which hot magma was ejected from the earth's interior and set things on fire. Most likely, humans came into contact with fire due to natural events like these. Even Stone Age humans were interested in fire and were able to observe how trees started to burn after being struck by lightning. Thus, the first humans dared to start fires in the Stone Age and found out that they could take fire into their caves with the help of burning branches. While humans were initially dependent on fire that arose "randomly," they later learned to create it themselves. This was done, for example, by friction of a branch with flint stones. However, this was still very hard work and not comparable to today.

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The Uses of Fire for Humans – From Past to Present

Even our ancestors in the Stone Age realized that they could use fire to their advantage. It served as a source of light and warmth in their cave and protected them against wild animals at the same time. Additionally, they were now able to cook their meat after hunting, making the food much more digestible. The Romans also used fire to illuminate their houses with oil lamps and candles. In contrast to the Stone Age, the fire no longer burned openly, and it was also possible to have lighting outside their living space at night with the help of burning gas lanterns. Another great advantage of fire was the ability to forge tools and weapons in the embers. This enabled humans to defend themselves against stronger creatures and ensured the survival of humanity. Additionally, practical everyday items such as bowls and jugs were fired in kilns at extremely hot temperatures, making them more stable. Today, everything is much easier, and we can create fire as needed with a lighter or matches. Nevertheless, we still depend on combustion in our everyday lives. For example, our electricity is partly generated in coal and gas power plants and our cars are driven by combustion. Furthermore, we still require heat to produce everyday materials from iron or aluminum in blast furnaces. Thus, fire is an important part of our lives, without which humans would never have come this far.

Rules for Handling Fire

In spite of its many positive aspects, you still must learn to handle fire properly, otherwise it can lead to serious accidents. You probably know that you have to keep a safe distance at a campfire, or that you can burn yourself on a hot stove plate. Ideally, you should never leave a fire unattended and only blow out the candles on your birthday cake under the supervision of an adult. If something should still go wrong, fortunately, there is the fire department. They know how to put out even large fires.

The Importance of Fire – Summary

Today, we learned how fire is important for human life on earth is. The sun, an inconceivably large ball of fire in space, is one of the reasons that life on earth can exist. But fire can be named as one of the reasons why civilization is possible. Without fire, we would have no warmth, no cooked food, and no light. But fire can also be dangerous! So watch out for these rules when dealing with a fire:

Rules for handling fire

  • Keep a safe distance from fire
  • Never leave a fire unattended
  • Handle a fire with the supervision of an adult
  • Call the fire department if you can’t control a fire

If you want to learn more about how fire originates and what fire needs to burn, you can watch the video how fire burns. There are interactive exercises as well as printable worksheets waiting for you after watching the video.

Transcript What is Fire?

Oh! Uma has baked a cake for the birthday boy! Do you want to light the candles, Uma? But it looks like Uma has no fire. Have you ever thought about... The Meaning of "Fire" and asked yourself how our lives would be different without it? Fire is like air (...), water (...) and earth (...) an important basic element. Without these basic materials, life on earth would hardly be possible. Even though the sun is not a fireball - because to burn, it would need much more oxygen - it creates warmth and light on earth. The sun is really hot. At it's center, it's over TEN THOUSAND degrees Farenheit! It's a good thing that we are almost a hundred million miles from the sun. This keeps us pleasantly warm here Sometimes though, it gets really hot... and that can be dangerous. The heat from the sun can cause dryness on earth, for example, in the forest. If grass and leaves are too dry from the sun, they only need a little spark (...) and a forest fire can break out. However, fire can also be caused by lightning or volcanic eruptions. A long time ago, fire seemed threatening to the people who lived with it. But, at some point they learned that fire can be very useful for them as well. They made fire circles with wood, and this changed things for them. They learned to understand, and control the fire (...) ...but what did they do when that fire eventually goes out? Did they need to wait for lightning to strike a tree? At first, they really did. Then, they learned that they could make a SPARK by hitting two rocks together. One of them was flint and the other was pyrite two types of rocks that when you collide them... make SPARKS With this, people coud start their OWN fires. As people learned more about fire, more possibilities were created to use it. The fire plow for example, is a wooden stick that is put on a board and turned quickly between your hands. The board on the bottom has a small indent, which is where the stick is placed. This is important, because it helps to create heat and wood dust... and eventually fire! The bow drill works similarly. Instead of using hands, a bow and cord is used. The rod can rotate much faster this way, and doesn't take long before fire erupts! Much much later, specifically in eighteen twenty-three, the first lighter was invented by a German chemist. Only four years later, an English pharmacist invented the match. Today we even use candle lighters. Well, did they light the candles on the cake yet? Before we take a look, let's see a summary of the evolution of fire. We started by learning about fires in forests (..) and ended with a lighter! The birthday boy has already blown out the candles by now (...) right? What are they waiting for? Lightning to spark their candles? Well, they will be waiting for a while then! And anyways (...) if it starts lightning (...) they should probably head inside. But you knew that!

2 comments
2 comments
  1. firrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre

    From Lucas Scott Kerley, 10 months ago
  2. COOL

    From Averie, about 1 year ago

What is Fire? exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video What is Fire?.
  • What are the basic elements?

    Hints

    The ocean is an example of one of the elements.

    Wind is an example of one of the elements.

    Solution

    The basic elements are: earth, air, fire, and water.

  • What are some ways that a fire can happen in nature?

    Hints

    The sun can dry out grass and leaves, and with a little spark, a fire can break out.

    These two stones can start a fire when rubbed together.

    Solution

    Fires can happen in nature from:

    • volcanic eruptions
    • lightning striking a tree
    • sun dried forests breaking out in fires from a little spark
    • colliding flint and pyrite stones together

  • How has our view of fire changed over time?

    Hints

    In early days, people were scared of fire until they learned how to properly use it.

    Today, people can use a lighter, match, or candle lighter.

    Solution

    Using fire has evolved, or changed over time, from early people learning how to use it, to modern inventions today that use it. This picture shows the evolution of fire as:

    • fire occurring naturally
    • early people using the fire
    • people learning how to make fire themselves with flint and pyrite stones
    • modern inventions using fire, such as the lighter

  • What are some fire inventions?

    Hints

    A fire invention is an object that was made to help start a fire.

    A fire invention is an object that makes it easier to use the fire for what you want to do, such as using a candle lighter to light a candle.

    Solution

    Some fire inventions are:
    *flint and pyrite to make fire
    *bow drill
    *fire plow
    *match
    *lighter
    *candle lighter

  • What are some ways that fire can be used?

    Hints

    How is fire being used here?

    What can be used to light a candle?

    Solution

    Fire can be used for:

    • cooking
    • campfire
    • to light with a candle lighter or lighter

  • Identify the ways people can make and use fire.

    Hints

    Are these people using or making a fire?

    Are these people using or making a fire?

    There are four ways to make fire and three ways to use fire.

    Solution

    This image shows some ways that you can make and use fire.