Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Work of Air: Prelude to the Winds, Demonstration Three

work of air, prelude to the winds

I got this demonstration to work and on the first try!  Unfortunately the video I took was one of the worst videos in the history of videos so I'll just share the picture.  This is demonstration 3 in the section of the AMI geography album (KotU) titled "The Work of Air:  Prelude to the Winds." 

Note to self: If you are going to keep posting pictures of science experiments on a cookie sheet, use one of the shiny cookie sheets.  

In this presentation we want to show that when hot air rises a void is created and other air will be drawn in to fill that void.  We review that hot air rises with the visual of the smoke from a stick of incense.  We used lavender.  I held the incense like a sparkler and demonstrated that the smoke rises straight up from the stick no matter what position I hold it in.  In hindsight, you may not want to train your child to wave burning incense sticks around like a sparkler. Next we need a sturdy tube with a door.  I made mine from a manila file folder and some tape.  A teal light candle at the bottom of the tube will heat the air so that it rises.   When the incense is placed near enough to the door the smoke suddenly stops traveling vertically and makes a very impressive horizontal jump toward the open door and smoke starts coming out of the top.  We definitely walked over to our fireplace immediately after this and made the connection between this experiment and how our fireplace and chimney work.

The script for this demonstration in the KotU album worked beautifully.  I appreciated having simple sentences provided to model.  I would have gotten wrapped up in my own tongue trying to explain this one.  The directions call for clay for holding the incense stick. I didn't need it until I needed my hands free to take a picture.  Perhaps the child would place the stick into the clay in several different positions rather than treat the incense like a sparkler.

On a side note, I have attempted Demonstration One another ten different times with the addition of things like duct tape with no luck.


  1. Really? Just set up to do this exact activity in 10 minutes. :)

  2. I have had mixed success with this one myself; technically, we are supposed to light, then blow out the flame and only work with the smoke. Either I have cheap incense or I just don't understand incense ;) but I don't tend to get much smoke....

    I am happy it worked for YOU though! Finally!!! ;)

  3. You are observant Jessica. I didn't catch that in the photo. Our incense does "burn out" and we are left with a smelly smoking stick. (It doesn't smell bad, just strong...)

    Last year we actually got the smoke to flow down and jump sideways into the hole before going up. This year, maybe our tube was smaller, or our flame/hot air wasn't as strong and we had to hold our incense stick pretty close to the cut out door to get it to go sideways and not straight up. I think we are going to have to make another "chimney" in a larger diameter.

  4. That's what I get for staging a photo I guess. I have NEVER used incense before, I'm an essential oils girl myself, so wasn't up on flame/no flame procedure. However, with all the "waving the stick around like a sparkler" the flame always fanned out appropriately within a few seconds. It still smoked after the flame was out. I took the picture after the boys had walked away. I quickly relit the flame over the tealight candle, jammed it in the clay, and took the picture before the stick could fall out of the clay and start the paper tube on fire.

  5. When I photographed our work way back when, I had to relight the incense because the smoke wasn't showing up in the photo. Now I have a better camera, I should probably try it again ;)

  6. Thank you for sharing photos.That was very helpful to me.