Hands-On Science: The Olympic Flame
As part of our Winter Olympics STEM series, kids at winter camp made their rendition of the Olympic Torch (a.k.a. home-made candles) while learning about physical and chemical changes. First used in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, the flame has come to be one of the most iconic symbols of unity, power, and passion.
Students observed solid wax melting into a liquid, and learned about the molecular processes that occur when matter undergoes a phase change. The molten wax was then poured into mini glass jars with a wick to be used as a candle. By mixing colorful crayon shavings into the molten wax, students made an otherwise ordinary lighting device into a work of art that represents the colors of the Olympics. Finally, students observed the chemical changes that occurred as the candles were lit; the hydrocarbons in the wax combusted in oxygen; the candles quickly went out when the candle was palced in an upside down jar, sealing it from its oxygen source.