Learning from Fire

Devyn Irvin

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Chemistry teacher Joseph McKenzie performed a demonstration of fire to teach his students about gas reactions rates on April 19. McKenzie lit various waters and alcohols on fire as examples of how different substances react with heat.

Senior Alyssa Chavez asks for clarification about the science behind the different reaction rates of the fire. “I found it very interesting and amusing,” Chaves said. “I was like ‘why is one different than the other?’ And when he explained it, it kind of clicked in my brain. It was really fascinating to learn something new.”


The purpose of the experiment was to demonstrate the speed that different substances reacted when heat was added.

McKenzie placed two dishes with alcohol and one with water on the table and lit them both on fire, one of the dishes burned longer than the other, and McKenzie explained that this was because of the different reaction rates of the substances.

“[The fire] wasn’t a big thing,” sophomore Dylan Thurston said. “but it was interesting to see how they had different burn rates”

This experiment was one of many different demonstrations that McKenzie has done to engage students in the learning topic.

“[McKenzie] tends to do interesting experiments to keep our attention,” sophomore Alyssa Vandermaelon said. “They always [keep my attention], and this time I was interested in how it happened and the science behind it.”