Many young kids grow up playing firefighters. They are mesmerized by the men and women in the red firetrucks who rush to put out fires. They don’t understand the science behind putting out fires. That’s not what sparks their attention at age five, but it does when they hit middle school.
A room of eighth graders at East Cobb Middle School recently huddled around lab tables wearing safety goggles. They still had the same awe-struck look as their younger selves as they listened to the visiting Cobb County firefighters. This time, the students were focused on learning about the dynamics of fire.
With the help of the Cobb County Fire Department, the hands-on experiments were part of Xplorlabs lessons that are designed to ignite passion and excitement for real-world science and engineering.
Silvino Moura and his fellow Cobb firefighters were teaching the East Cobb students about the fire triangle and the three elements that fire needs to thrive: fuel, heat, and oxygen.
Moura walked the students through experiments that demonstrated how removing one of the parts of the fire triangle would extinguish the fire.
East Cobb eight graders Luanna and Jesse agreed that hearing from fire experts, like Moura, helped them understand the science lesson more.
Luanna was easily able to recall the experiment where the firefighters showed them what happens when they remove oxygen from the fire. The students watched closely as their classmate put the jar over the candle and the flame slowly extinguished as the oxygen was depleted.
As the firefighting teachers watched, the students in another experiment tried to remove the heat from the candle by holding a really cold screwdriver over the flame. The fire dissipated as the heat diminished.
Luanna described the experiments as fun and the guest instructors as engaging. Standing in as a teacher was a first for Moura, but seeing the students’ excitement may encourage him to spend more time working with students in the future.
“It gave me more passion to teach. Hopefully from this, [the students] will understand what firefighters deal with and how it is important for us to know how fire works and how to put out fires,” Moura added. “Who knows, maybe one day they will apply to be a firefighter with Cobb County.”