What room the 4 Elements?

Science Lesson: Earth, Water, Air, and also Fire

The ancient Greeks thought that there to be four facets that every little thing was made up of: earth, water, air, and also fire. This theory was suggested roughly 450 BC, and it was later supported and added to by Aristotle.

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(Aristotle likewise suggested the there was a 5th element, aether, because it appeared strange the the stars would be made out of earthly elements. He would certainly be surprised to find out that they space in fact comprised of many aspects found ~ above earth, and are so hot they might be stated to it is in on fire all the time!)

The idea the these four aspects – earth, water, air, and fire – comprised all issue was the cornerstone that philosophy, science, and also medicine for 2 thousand year (kids love to ask inquiries on the elements).

The elements were “pure” but could no be uncovered in that state on earth. Every visible thing was comprised of some combination of earth, water, air, and also fire.

The four aspects were also used to defined the 4 temperaments a person might have, and also Hippocrates offered the four facets to define the four “humors” found in the body. These theories stated that the temperaments and also humors essential to be in balance v each other in order for a human to be well both mentally and also physically.

While we do understand now that these ahead theories space false, in a way the four aspects do align with the 4 states of issue that modern science has agreed on: solid (earth), liquid (water), gas (air), and plasma (fire).

Although the Greeks believed that the four aspects were unchanging in nature, everything was made up of different elements, which were organized together or propelled apart by pressures of attraction and also repulsion, causing substances to show up to change. This is similar to what yes, really happens through elements and also all molecules at an atom level.

Matter is noþeles that has mass and also volume and also is made up of atoms, which space the the smallest particles of matter. Bonding occurs among atoms come make bigger molecules. (Click below to learn much more about bonding.) Mass is just how much matter is in things whereas volume is how much an are the object takes up. Just how atoms space arranged in an object determines whether it is a solid, liquid, gas, or plasma.

In a solid, the atoms space packed very closely together in an notified pattern and also cannot move, offering a heavy a definite volume and shape. Instances of solids include rocks, wood, metal, and ice.In a liquid, the atoms space close together but can move roughly each other. This permits a fluid to take it the form of whatever container the is inserted in. Instances of liquids include room temperature water, room temperature mercury, and also hot lava (molten rock).In a gas, over there is more space in between atoms. The atoms can move so openly that if the gas is no trapped in a container, the atoms will certainly diffuse and spread throughout the atmosphere. Examples of gases room oxygen and nitrogen (in the air us breathe), helium, and vapor (water vapor).In a plasma, the atoms room spaced an in similar way to gas except there is for this reason much energy in a plasma, the atoms actually split into smaller pieces. Plasmas space able to carry an electrical current and generate magnetic fields. Instances of plasmas include lightning, solar wind, the sun, fluorescent lights, and also neon signs.

Temperature plays vital role in exactly how the atoms space aligned in a substance. Together a general ascendancy of thumb, the cooler the issue is, the closer the atoms room to every other, and the warmer the matter is, the aside from that the atoms space apart. The course, the temperature in ~ which a matter is a solid or a liquid depends on what problem the matter is make of. For example, water at room temperature is a fluid whereas a rock at room temperature is solid.

Science Lesson: The Four facets in daily Life

First Element: Earth


The earth is full of a wide range of rocks and also minerals which gives the soil to thrive vegetation and also support life. The two many common aspects in the earth’s crust are oxygen (46%) and also silicon (28%). Because of this, the most abundant mineral in the earth’s tardy is silica (silicon dioxide). More commonly well-known as sand, silica is a major component that glass. How have the right to glass be made out of sand? Interestingly, as soon as silica is heated, it melts and becomes glass, hardening together it cools.

Rich store of metal ores are uncovered throughout the earth’s crust. If these metals are provided in the manufacturing of machinery, tools, buildings, and also weapons, straight out the the earth these steels are quite useless. Fire is used to heat, refine, and shape metal so that machines, hammers, and support beams deserve to be do from it.

It is straightforward to think the the planet as gift solid dust through and also through, however in truth it is made up of numerous layers. While countless of this layers are solid, the layer that surrounds the core is referred to as the liquid outer core. It is so warm inside the planet that the rock at this layer has actually melted. The hard inner main point is simply as warm as the liquid layer bordering it, yet the press on the inner core is so great that scientists think it is “pressed” right into a solid.

Second Element: Water

Water has many unique properties. The chemical formula the water is H20, meaning it is make of 2 hydrogen atom bonded to one oxygen atom. The hydrogen atoms each affix to one next of the oxygen atom and have a optimistic charge vice versa, the oxygen atom has a negative charge. This polarizes the water molecule, lot like a magnet, offering a water molecule hopeful and an adverse ends.

Since opposite dues attract, water molecules have tendency to “stick” together. This offers water surface stress and anxiety and allows objects, such together paperclips, come float on it.

While that can’t dissolve everything, water is well-known as the global solvent due to the fact that it deserve to dissolve more substances than any kind of other liquid. It have the right to dissolve salt, sugar, acids, alkalis, some gases, and also organic material.


Water traveling through your body or with the ground bring away chemicals, minerals, and also nutrients through it. Water’s capability to dissolve building material helps store the planet healthy. For much more than a century, the burning of fossil fuels has pumped big amounts that carbon dioxide (CO2) right into the atmosphere. The water in oceans have soaked up about fifty percent of this CO2 by dissolving the gas from the air and processing it by sea vegetation.

Water has a high certain heat index, an interpretation that it takes a many of power to readjust its temperature. This is important for life to survive on a planet. The variety of water ~ above the earth keeps the earth in a really short however comfortable temperature range. The average surface temperature that the earth is 59 ° F v the highest recorded temperature 135.9 ° F and the lowest videotaped temperature -128.6 ° F.

To compare, it would seem logical that Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, would continue to be really warm on all surfaces the the planet, nevertheless if it was dealing with the sunlight or not. However, when the surface facing the sun does reach very warm temperatures (up to 800 ° F), the surfacing facing away from the sunlight drops come a it will be cold -280 ° F. Mercury’s absence of water is responsible for this drastic temperature change because the dry product that makes up its surface cannot hold heat like water does.

To endure for yourself exactly how well water does store temperature from drastic fluctuations, pay fist to the adjust between daytime and also nighttime temperatures the next time you visit a naval (near the ocean) or desert climate. You’ll probably an alert there is little to no temperature readjust near the ocean, whereas in the desert there is a far-ranging change in daytime and also nighttime temperatures.

This high particular heat index also helps water put out fire through cooling the fuel surfaces that the fire is burning, removed the warmth needed for the fire come burn. Water likewise smothers a fire by avoiding it from obtaining the oxygen it demands to burn.

Third Element: Air

Air was thought about a “pure” element, yet in fact the wait that’s all around us is comprised of a selection of gases: mostly nitrogen and oxygen, with practically 1% argon and also even smaller quantities of carbon dioxide and other elements such as krypton and helium. The ingredient of air is just right because that life ~ above Earth, though.


We use a the majority of the oxygen we gain from the air, then breathe out carbon dioxide – which plants need to manufacture their food through photosynthesis. Tree in turn give off oxygen throughout photosynthesis.

Although air is invisible (and many of the moment we forget the is even there), that does take up space, it has actually volume, and it exerts pressure. This have the right to be seen as soon as you take an “empty” glass, turn it upside down, and try to press it under to the bottom of a sink full of water.

(You deserve to see how air broadens when heated and also shrinks when cooled with this egg-in-a-bottle project.)

If the glass to be truly empty, the water would quickly fill the inside of the glass. However air is in there, and only a small amount the water can go into the glass. The wait in the glass to be compressed, providing the water some an are that to be previously inhabited with air.

It is a an excellent thing that air fills empty room because wait all around us in reality presses down on us all the time. We would collapse under the load of the air, other than air is additionally inside us and also exerts press that balances the end the push exerted by the exterior air.

Fourth Element: Fire

How go fire work? It’s very closely linked to air. Fire requirements three things in order come exist: oxygen, fuel, and heat.

The soot of a fire varies due to the fact that it is dependent on the oxygen, fuel, and also heat available to it. When all three of this things are in a regulated situation, such together in candles or a campfire, fires are thought about helpful. But when one or more of these things are not controlled, such together in a wildfire or a burning building, fires can conveniently become very dangerous.

To extinguish a fire, the oxygen, fuel, or warmth needs to it is in removed. “Smothering” a fire by put a ceiling or dust on that works due to the fact that the fire goes out without oxygen. The earth provides wealth of fuel in the form of wood and fossil fuels such as coal. As soon as the fuel is removed, the fire has nothing left come burn and also is extinguished. Water regularly serves together an efficient cooling source by remove the warmth from a fire. This is watched when warm lava native an erupting volcano start the ocean or once a bucket that water is dumped on a campfire.


Fire creates light, heat, and smoke by a rapid chemical reaction called combustion. Smoke is the an outcome of the incomplete burning (burning) the a fuel. Particles that were not burned come to be suspended in the air. Smoke is regularly dangerous due to the fact that it consists of harmful gases that have the right to poison a person who inhales too lot smoke.

You can be surprised to understand that our bodies additionally use “combustion” to create energy from oxygen and also food v metabolic processes. We require a stable supply that oxygen to store our body functioning normally; if there’s too little oxygen in the air, we’ll suffocate. In ~ the exact same time, we have the right to be thankful there’s not an ext oxygen in the air, or the chemical reactions in our bodies would rate up, causing us to shortly “crash and also burn”!

Too lot oxygen in the wait would also increase the hazard of fires on the earth. Because nitrogen and also argon space not an extremely reactive, waiting is pretty safe for us.

Science Projects: exploring The four Elements

Make a Fire Extinguisher

In bespeak to placed out a fire, one of three things have to be eliminated from it: heat, fuel, or oxygen. Knowing this, firefighters don’t always use water to placed out a fire.

What you Need:Empty soda bottle5 tablespoons the vinegar1/2 tablespoon that baking sodaTea light candleWhat friend Do:

1. Light the candle.

2. To water the vinegar right into the party and add the baking soda. (You may want to usage a funnel.) The mixture have to fizz.

3. Hold the bottle sideways over the lighted candle, making sure no fluid escapes. What wake up to the flame?

What Happened:

The baking soda and also vinegar reaction to do carbon dioxide, a gas that is heavier 보다 oxygen. Together it “pours” the end of the bottle, it pushes the lighter oxygen away from the candle. The fire, now deprived the oxygen, deserve to no longer burn.

Traveling Nutrients

Water is often called the global Solvent because it have the right to dissolve more substances than any type of other liquid, often carrying these dissolved particles with it. Once water travels through soil, nutrients (food) and also dissolved corpuscle travel through the water to be deposited what else. Here is one experiment to visually show how this process happens.

What you Need:1/2 cup dry soil1/2 teaspoon blue powdered tempera paintFunnelWide-mouthed seasoned (that the funnel deserve to rest in)Coffee filterCups or containersWaterMeasuring cupWhat friend Do:

1. Mix the dried soil and also tempera repaint thoroughly. Location the funnel in the jar and place the coffee filter in the funnel. To water the floor mixture right into the funnel.

2. Progressively pour 1/2 cup water right into the funnel, watching together the water runs out of the funnel into the jar. An alert the shade of the water.

3. Eliminate the funnel native the jar and pour the water into a cup or container. Change the funnel end the jar, through the coffee filter complete of sand still in place.

4. Repeat actions 2 and also 3 through a fresh 1/2 cup that water several times, saving the water in a brand-new cup after every pouring.

What Happens:

You’ll an alert that once the very first half cup that water went through the soil, it come out as a very dark blue color. However, the water come out lighter through each extr cup. Eventually, the water traveling with the soil come out clean in the jar. Did friend count exactly how many half cups of water it required to make the water run clear?

The tempura paint in this experiment to represent the nutrients and dissolved particles found in the soil. Water is a very efficient transporter of corpuscle as evidenced by the color of water as it to be poured v the soil. The soil started with a relatively high lot of nutrients and also particles in it – the tempura paint. The water flowing with the soil was able to pick up a large proportion that the “nutrients” and also carry them with it with the funnel. Every subsequent putting of water choose up an ext nutrients. Through each pouring, the continuing to be nutrients became less and also less until the water ran clear and also there to be no more nutrients left to travel v the water.

Noteworthy Scientist: George Gabriel Stokes, 1819-1903

George Gabriel Stokes to be an accomplished British mathematician in the 19th Century, but throughout his career, that emphasized the prestige of experimentation and also problem solving fairly than focusing exclusively on mathematics.

By experimenting and also applying mathematics to physics, Stokes came up through a regulation that describes the movement of a solid through a liquid or a gas. Known as Stoke’s Law, this legislation of viscosity established the science of hydrodynamics. Stoke’s Law describes cloud motion, tide motion, and also the resistance that water to delivery movement.

Most the Stoke’s work-related revolved approximately waves (sound, light, and water) and how they move through various mediums, such as water and gas. That experimented with exactly how wind influence the soot of a sound and also how the soot is influenced by the kind of gas the sound waves take trip through. The named and also explained fluorescence and also investigated the wave concept of light. He also worked on understanding the various colored bands that could be checked out in a spectrum and made far-ranging contributions to what us know about light and also optics.

Stokes is often contrasted to sir Isaac Newton due to the fact that there are countless parallels between Stoke’s life and Newton’s life: both had breakthrough discoveries, occurred laws of motion, investigated light and optics, organized the exact same prestigious Lucasian Chair of mathematics at the college of Cambridge, and served in Parliament.

Fabulous Facts


Most gemstones contain numerous elements. The exception? The diamond. It’s all carbon.

Which that the 50 states has never had an earthquake? phibìc Dakota.

The Earth’s equatorial circumference (40,075 km) is greater than the polar circumference (40,008 km).

The earth is approximated to weigh 6.6 sextillion tons, or 5.97 x 1024 kg. To compare, a million is a 1 with 6 zeros complying with it – a sextillion is a 1 v 21 zeros following it. (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000)


An inch of rain water is identical to 15 inches of dry, powdery snow.

The deepest part of the s is 35,813 feet (10,916 meters) deep and occurs in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. At that depth the push is 18,000 pounds (9172 kilograms) per square inch.

The human brain is 80% water.


8-12 miles above the earth, rivers that air recognized as jet streams move above us. Numerous miles large and 1-2 miles deep, these currents that air can have wind speeds together high together 250 miles per hour. To contrast, the strongest hurricanes have wind speeds in between 150-200 miles every hour.


A bolt that lightning is around 5,000 °F (~2,800 °C).

The center of the sun is around 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million °C).

Elements combined

When hydrogen burns in the air, water is formed.

Oxygen is the many abundant facet in the Earth’s crust, waters, and atmosphere (about 49.5%).

Sound travels around 4 times quicker in water 보다 in air.

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Wind and also water both reason erosion to the earth, moving big amounts that sand and rock to tear down mountains and build brand-new structures.