What space the four Elements?

Science Lesson: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire

The ancient Greeks believed that there were four elements that everything was made up of: earth, water, air, and also fire. This theory was suggested roughly 450 BC, and it was later supported and included to by Aristotle.

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(Aristotle also suggested the there was a fifth element, aether, due to the fact that it seemed strange the the stars would certainly be made out of earthly elements. He would certainly be surprised to learn that they are in fact made up of many aspects found top top earth, and also are so hot they could be stated to it is in on fire every the time!)

The idea that these four aspects – earth, water, air, and fire – consisted of all matter was the cornerstone the philosophy, science, and medicine for two thousand years (kids love to ask inquiries on the elements).

The facets were “pure” however could no be discovered in the state ~ above earth. Every visible point was comprised of some mix of earth, water, air, and also fire.

The four aspects were even used to defined the four temperaments a person could have, and Hippocrates provided the four aspects to explain the 4 “humors” uncovered in the body. This theories stated that the temperaments and humors required to it is in in balance with each various other in order because that a human being to be fine both mentally and physically.

While us do know now that these vault theories room false, in a method the four elements do align through the 4 states of matter that modern-day science has actually agreed on: solid (earth), liquid (water), gas (air), and plasma (fire).

Although the Greeks believed that the four facets were unchanging in nature, everything was consisted of of various elements, i beg your pardon were held together or thrust apart by forces of attraction and repulsion, bring about substances to show up to change. This is similar to what really happens with elements and all molecule at an atomic level.

Matter is something that has actually mass and volume and also is consisted of of atoms, which room the the smallest particles of matter. Bonding occurs among atoms come make bigger molecules. (Click below to learn much more about bonding.) Mass is exactly how much issue is in an item whereas volume is how much an are the thing takes up. Exactly how atoms room arranged in things determines even if it is it is a solid, liquid, gas, or plasma.

In a solid, the atoms room packed closely together in an bespeak pattern and cannot move, providing a hard a definite volume and also shape. Instances of solids incorporate rocks, wood, metal, and ice.In a liquid, the atoms room close together however can move roughly each other. This allows a liquid to take the shape of whatever container the is inserted in. Instances of liquids incorporate room temperature water, room temperature mercury, and hot lava (molten rock).In a gas, there is much more space between atoms. The atoms can move so openly that if the gas is not trapped in a container, the atoms will diffuse and also spread throughout the atmosphere. Instances of gases room oxygen and nitrogen (in the air we breathe), helium, and heavy steam (water vapor).In a plasma, the atoms space spaced likewise to gas except there is for this reason much power in a plasma, the atoms actually separation into smaller pieces. Plasmas are able to carry an electrical current and generate magnetic fields. Examples of plasmas encompass lightning, solar wind, the sun, fluorescent lights, and neon signs.

Temperature plays critical role in just how the atoms are aligned in a substance. As a general rule of thumb, the cooler the issue is, the closer the atoms space to each other, and also the warmer the issue is, the aside from that the atoms are apart. The course, the temperature at which a matter is a hard or a liquid counts on what substance the issue is made of. Because that example, water in ~ room temperature is a liquid whereas a rock at room temperature is solid.

Science Lesson: The Four elements in daily Life

First Element: Earth


The earth is full of a wide range of rocks and minerals which offers the soil to flourish vegetation and also support life. The two many common aspects in the earth’s crust room oxygen (46%) and also silicon (28%). Since of this, the many abundant mineral in the earth’s crust is silica (silicon dioxide). Much more commonly recognized as sand, silica is a major component that glass. How can glass be made out of sand? Interestingly, when silica is heated, it melts and becomes glass, hardening as it cools.

Rich shop of metal ores are discovered throughout the earth’s crust. While these metals are offered in the manufacturing of machinery, tools, buildings, and also weapons, directly out the the planet these metals are nice useless. Fire is offered to heat, refine, and shape steel so that machines, hammers, and support beams deserve to be made from it.

It is easy to think that the earth as being solid dirt through and through, but in reality it is consisted of of numerous layers. While numerous of this layers room solid, the layer the surrounds the core is dubbed the liquid outer core. It is so warm inside the planet that the rock at this layer has actually actually melted. The hard inner core is simply as hot as the liquid layer surrounding it, however the press on the inner core is so great that scientists believe it is “pressed” into a solid.

Second Element: Water

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

Since opposite fees attract, water molecules have tendency to “stick” together. This offers water surface tension and permits objects, such as paperclips, come float on it.

While it can’t dissolve everything, water is known as the global solvent because it can dissolve more substances than any type of other liquid. It have the right to dissolve salt, sugar, acids, alkalis, some gases, and organic material.


Water traveling with your body or v the ground take away chemicals, minerals, and also nutrients through it. Water’s capability to dissolve building material helps save the earth healthy. For much more than a century, the burning of fossil fuels has pumped large amounts that carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. The water in seas have took in about fifty percent of this CO2 by dissolving the gas indigenous the air and also processing the by sea vegetation.

Water has a high certain heat index, meaning that it takes a lot of energy to change its temperature. This is essential for life to make it through on a planet. The variety of water top top the planet keeps the earth in a really short yet comfortable temperature range. The mean surface temperature the the planet is 59 ° F v the highest recorded temperature 135.9 ° F and the lowest taped temperature -128.6 ° F.

To compare, it would certainly seem logical the Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, would continue to be really warmth on every surfaces the the planet, nevertheless if the was encountering the sunlight or not. However, while the surface dealing with the sunlight does reach an extremely warm temperatures (up come 800 ° F), the surfacing encountering away native the sun drops come a it will be cold -280 ° F. Mercury’s lack of water is responsible for this correct temperature readjust because the dry material that makes up its surface cannot hold warm like water does.

To suffer for yourself exactly how well water does store temperature native drastic fluctuations, pay attention to the change between daytime and also nighttime temperature the following time girlfriend visit a maritime (near the ocean) or desert climate. You’ll probably notice there is tiny to no temperature readjust near the ocean, conversely, in the desert over there is a significant change in daytime and nighttime temperatures.

This high particular heat index also helps water placed out fire by cooling the fuel surfaces that the fire is burning, remove the warm needed because that the fire to burn. Water likewise smothers a fire by preventing it from acquiring the oxygen it demands to burn.

Third Element: Air

Air was thought about a “pure” element, however in fact the air that’s all around us is consisted of of a variety of gases: mainly nitrogen and also oxygen, with nearly 1% argon and also even smaller quantities of carbon dioxide and also other elements such together krypton and helium. The ingredient of waiting is just right for life ~ above Earth, though.


We usage a lot of the oxygen we acquire from the air, then breathe out carbon dioxide – i beg your pardon plants need to manufacture your food v photosynthesis. Plants in turn give off oxygen throughout photosynthesis.

Although waiting is invisible (and most of the moment we forget that is also there), it does take up space, it has volume, and it exerts pressure. This can be seen when you take an “empty” glass, revolve it upside down, and try to push it down to the bottom of a sink full of water.

(You deserve to see how air expands when heated and shrinks once cooled through this egg-in-a-bottle project.)

If the glass was truly empty, the water would conveniently fill the inside of the glass. Yet air is in there, and only a little amount of water can go into the glass. The air in the glass was compressed, providing the water some an are that to be previously populated with air.

It is a an excellent thing the air fills empty room because air all approximately us in reality presses under on united state all the time. We would certainly collapse under the weight of the air, except air is additionally inside us and also exerts press that balances out the push exerted by the outside air.

Fourth Element: Fire

How walk fire work? It’s very closely linked come air. Fire needs three points in order come exist: oxygen, fuel, and also heat.

The intensity of a fire varies due to the fact that it is dependent on the oxygen, fuel, and heat accessible to it. Once all three of this things are in a controlled situation, such as in candles or a campfire, fires are taken into consideration helpful. However when one or an ext of these things are not controlled, such together in a wildfire or a burn building, fires can easily become very dangerous.

To extinguish a fire, the oxygen, fuel, or warmth needs to be removed. “Smothering” a fire by place a ceiling or dirt on that works because the fire goes out without oxygen. The planet provides an abundance of fuel in the kind of wood and also fossil fuels such together coal. As soon as the fuel is removed, the fire has actually nothing left come burn and is extinguished. Water frequently serves together an effective cooling source by removed the warmth from a fire. This is seen when hot lava native an erupting volcano start the s or once a bucket of water is dumped ~ above a campfire.


Fire create light, heat, and smoke through a fast chemical reaction called combustion. Exhilaration is the result of the incomplete combustion (burning) the a fuel. Particles that were not burned become suspended in the air. Acting is often dangerous due to the fact that it contains harmful gases that can poison a human being who inhales too much smoke.

You could be surprised to recognize that our bodies also use “combustion” to create energy from oxygen and food with metabolic processes. We need a stable supply the oxygen to save our bodies functioning normally; if there’s too small oxygen in the air, we’ll suffocate. At the very same time, we have the right to be thankful there’s not more oxygen in the air, or the chemical reactions in our body would speed up, resulting in us to quickly “crash and burn”!

Too lot oxygen in the waiting would likewise increase the risk of fires ~ above the earth. Because nitrogen and also argon are not an extremely reactive, waiting is pretty safe for us.

Science Projects: exploring The 4 Elements

Make a Fire Extinguisher

In stimulate to put out a fire, among three things should be gotten rid of from it: heat, fuel, or oxygen. Understanding this, firefighters don’t always use water to placed out a fire.

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

1. Light the candle.

2. Pour the vinegar into the party and add the baking soda. (You may want to use a funnel.) The mixture should fizz.

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

What Happened:

The baking soda and vinegar react to make carbon dioxide, a gas the is heavier 보다 oxygen. As it “pours” the end of the bottle, it pushes the lighter oxygen away from the candle. The fire, now deprived of oxygen, can no much longer burn.

Traveling Nutrients

Water is often referred to as the universal Solvent because it can dissolve much more substances than any type of other liquid, regularly carrying these dissolved particles with it. As soon as water travels through soil, nutrients (food) and also dissolved corpuscle travel through the water to be deposited somewhere else. Right here is one experiment to visually show how this procedure happens.

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

1. Mix the dry soil and tempera paint thoroughly. Ar the funnel in the jar and place the coffee filter in the funnel. Pour the floor mixture 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. Notification the shade of the water.

3. Eliminate the funnel native the jar and also pour the water right into a cup or container. Change the funnel over the jar, with the coffee filter full of sand tho in place.

4. Repeat actions 2 and also 3 v a fresh 1/2 cup of water numerous times, conserving the water in a brand-new cup after each pouring.

What Happens:

You’ll notification that once the very first half cup of water went through the soil, it come out together a very dark blue color. However, the water come out lighter v each extr cup. Eventually, the water traveling through the soil come out clear in the jar. Did you count how many half cups of water it took to make the water operation clear?

The tempura paint in this experiment to represent the nutrients and dissolved particles uncovered in the soil. Water is a really efficient transporter of particles as evidenced by the color of water as it to be poured v the soil. The soil started with a reasonably high quantity of nutrients and also particles in that – the tempura paint. The water flowing v the soil had the ability to pick up a huge proportion of the “nutrients” and carry them with it through the funnel. Every subsequent pouring of water choose up more nutrients. V each pouring, the staying nutrients became less and less till the water ran clear and also there were no more nutrients left to travel v the water.

Noteworthy Scientist: George Gabriel Stokes, 1819-1903

George Gabriel Stokes was an achieved British mathematician in the 19th Century, but throughout his career, the emphasized the importance of experimentation and problem solving quite than focusing exclusively on mathematics.

By experimenting and applying math to physics, Stokes come up v a legislation that defines the motion of a solid through a liquid or a gas. Recognized as Stoke’s Law, this law of viscosity established the scientific research of hydrodynamics. Stoke’s Law defines cloud motion, tide motion, and the resistance of water to ship movement.

Most of Stoke’s job-related revolved about waves (sound, light, and also water) and also how they move through miscellaneous mediums, such as water and gas. The experimented with just how wind influence the strongness of a sound and also how the strongness is influenced by the kind of gas the sound waves take trip through. That named and also explained fluorescence and investigated the wave theory of light. He additionally worked on knowledge the different colored bands that could be watched in a spectrum and made far-reaching contributions to what we know about light and also optics.

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

Fabulous Facts


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

Which of the 50 states has never had actually an earthquake? north Dakota.

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

The earth is estimated to sweet 6.6 sextillion tons, or 5.97 x 1024 kg. Come compare, a million is a 1 through 6 zeros adhering to it – a sextillion is a 1 v 21 zeros complying with it. (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000)


An customs of rain water is indistinguishable to 15 inch of dry, powdery snow.

The deepest component of the s is 35,813 feet (10,916 meters) deep and also 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 mind is 80% water.


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


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

The facility of the sunlight is about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million °C).

Elements combined

When hydrogen burns in the air, water is formed.

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

Sound travels around 4 times faster in water than in air.

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Wind and also water both cause erosion to the earth, moving huge amounts of sand and also rock come tear under mountains and build new structures.