What room the four Elements?

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

The old Greeks thought that there were four aspects that whatever was comprised of: earth, water, air, and fire. This theory was suggested roughly 450 BC, and it was later supported and included to by Aristotle.

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(Aristotle likewise suggested the there was a 5th element, aether, because it seemed strange the the stars would certainly be made the end of earthly elements. He would be surprised to discover that they space in fact consisted of of many facets found on earth, and also are so warm they can be claimed to it is in on fire every the time!)

The idea that these four elements – earth, water, air, and also fire – consisted of all matter was the cornerstone that philosophy, science, and also medicine for 2 thousand years (kids love to ask questions on the elements).

The elements were “pure” yet could not be found in that state top top earth. Every visible point was comprised of some combination of earth, water, air, and fire.

The four elements were also used to explained the four temperaments a person can have, and also Hippocrates provided the four aspects to explain the four “humors” discovered in the body. These theories declared that the temperaments and also humors necessary to it is in in balance through each various other in order for a human being to be fine both mentally and also physically.

While us do know now the these vault theories room false, in a way the four facets do align with the 4 states of issue that modern science has actually agreed on: solid (earth), liquid (water), gas (air), and plasma (fire).

Although the Greeks believed that the four elements were unchanging in nature, everything was made up of various elements, i m sorry were hosted together or pushed apart by forces of attraction and also repulsion, leading to substances to show up to change. This is similar to what really happens with elements and also all molecules at an atom level.

Matter is anything that has actually mass and also volume and is made up of atoms, which space the the smallest particles that matter. Bonding occurs amongst atoms to make bigger molecules. (Click here to learn much more about bonding.) Mass is exactly how much issue is in things whereas volume is exactly how much room the thing takes up. How atoms room arranged in an object determines whether it is a solid, liquid, gas, or plasma.

In a solid, the atoms room packed very closely together in an notified pattern and cannot move, giving a hard a definite volume and shape. Instances of solids encompass rocks, wood, metal, and also ice.In a liquid, the atoms space close together however can move around each other. This permits a fluid to take it the form of everything container that is put in. Instances of liquids include room temperature water, room temperature mercury, and also hot lava (molten rock).In a gas, there is much more space between atoms. The atoms can move so easily that if the gas is no trapped in a container, the atoms will certainly diffuse and spread throughout the atmosphere. Instances of gases are oxygen and also nitrogen (in the air we breathe), helium, and steam (water vapor).In a plasma, the atoms space spaced an in similar way to gas other than there is for this reason much energy in a plasma, the atom actually separation into smaller pieces. Plasmas room 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 an important role in just how the atoms are aligned in a substance. As a general dominance of thumb, the chillier the issue is, the closer the atoms space to every other, and the warmer the matter is, the aside from that the atoms space apart. That course, the temperature at which a issue is a solid or a liquid depends on what problem the issue is made of. Because that example, water at room temperature is a liquid whereas a absent 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 also minerals which gives the floor to prosper vegetation and also support life. The two many common elements in the earth’s crust are oxygen (46%) and also silicon (28%). Due to the fact that of this, the most abundant mineral in the earth’s tardy is silica (silicon dioxide). An ext commonly recognized as sand, silica is a significant component of glass. How can glass be made the end of sand? Interestingly, once silica is heated, it melts and becomes glass, hardening as it cools.

Rich shop of metal ores are found throughout the earth’s crust. If these metals are provided in the manufacturing of machinery, tools, buildings, and weapons, directly out that the planet these metals are nice useless. Fire is supplied to heat, refine, and shape steel so that machines, hammers, and also support beams deserve to be do 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 several layers. While plenty of of these layers are solid, the layer the surrounds the core is called the liquid outer core. That is so hot inside the earth that the rock at this layer has actually melted. The solid inner core is simply as warm as the fluid layer surrounding it, however the push on the inner core is so an excellent that scientists think it is “pressed” right into a solid.

Second Element: Water

Water has numerous unique properties. The chemistry formula of water is H20, definition it is do of 2 hydrogen atoms bonded to one oxygen atom. The hydrogen atoms each connect to one next of the oxygen atom and have a hopeful charge vice versa, the oxygen atom has actually a negative charge. This polarizes the water molecule, much like a magnet, providing a water molecule optimistic and an unfavorable ends.

Since opposite charges attract, water molecules have tendency to “stick” together. This offers water surface anxiety and permits objects, such as paperclips, come float ~ above it.

While the can’t dissolve everything, water is recognized as the global solvent since it can dissolve more substances than any kind of other liquid. It can dissolve salt, sugar, acids, alkalis, some gases, and organic material.


Water traveling v your human body or with the ground takes chemicals, minerals, and nutrients through it. Water’s ability to dissolve building materials helps store the earth healthy. For an ext than a century, the burn of fossil fuels has actually pumped large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) right into the atmosphere. The water in seas have absorbed about half of this CO2 by dissolving the gas from the air and processing that by sea vegetation.

Water has a high particular heat index, meaning that that takes a many of energy to adjust its temperature. This is essential for life to survive on a planet. The abundance of water on the planet keeps the earth in a really short but comfortable temperature range. The median surface temperature the the earth is 59 ° F through the highest possible recorded temperature 135.9 ° F and the lowest recorded temperature -128.6 ° F.

To compare, it would seem logical that Mercury, the closest world to the sun, would stay really warm on every surfaces the the planet, nevertheless if that was facing the sun or not. However, while the surface dealing with the sun does reach really warm temperatures (up come 800 ° F), the surfacing encountering away from the sun drops to a chilly -280 ° F. Mercury’s absence of water is responsible for this correctly temperature change because the dry product that provides up its surface cannot hold heat like water does.

To experience for yourself just how well water does keep temperature from drastic fluctuations, pay fist to the readjust between daytime and also nighttime temperature the next time friend visit a maritime (near the ocean) or desert climate. You’ll probably an alert there is small to no temperature adjust near the ocean, conversely, in the desert there is a far-reaching change in daytime and also nighttime temperatures.

This high specific heat index additionally helps water placed out fire through cooling the fuel surfaces the the fire is burning, remove the warm needed because that the fire come burn. Water likewise smothers a fire by avoiding it from getting the oxygen it needs to burn.

Third Element: Air

Air was taken into consideration a “pure” element, but in truth the wait that’s all roughly us is comprised of a selection of gases: mostly nitrogen and also oxygen, with almost 1% argon and even smaller amounts of carbon dioxide and other facets such together krypton and helium. The ingredient of air is just right for life ~ above Earth, though.


We use a most the oxygen we obtain from the air, climate breathe out carbon dioxide – i beg your pardon plants must manufacture your food through photosynthesis. Plants in turn give off oxygen during photosynthesis.

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

(You deserve to see exactly how air expands when heated and shrinks as soon as cooled v this egg-in-a-bottle project.)

If the glass to be truly empty, the water would conveniently fill the within of the glass. Yet air is in there, and only a little amount the water can enter the glass. The wait in the glass to be compressed, giving the water some space that was previously occupied with air.

It is a good thing that air fills empty space because air all approximately us in reality presses under on united state all the time. We would certainly collapse under the load of the air, except air is likewise inside us and exerts press that balances the end the push exerted by the outside air.

Fourth Element: Fire

How walk fire work? It’s carefully linked come air. Fire demands three points in order to exist: oxygen, fuel, and heat.

The intensity of a fire varies due to the fact that it is dependent on the oxygen, fuel, and also heat easily accessible to it. Once all 3 of these things are in a controlled situation, such as in candle or a campfire, fires are considered helpful. Yet when one or much more of this things room not controlled, such as in a wildfire or a burn building, fires can conveniently become very dangerous.

To extinguish a fire, the oxygen, fuel, or heat needs to be removed. “Smothering” a fire by put a ceiling or dust on that works since the fire goes the end without oxygen. The planet provides an abundance of fuel in the kind of wood and fossil fuel such together coal. When the fuel is removed, the fire has actually nothing left to burn and is extinguished. Water frequently serves together an effective cooling resource by removed the warmth from a fire. This is seen when hot lava from an erupting volcano start the ocean or once a bucket of water is dumped ~ above a campfire.


Fire create light, heat, and also smoke by a quick chemical reaction called combustion. Acting is the an outcome of the incomplete burning (burning) that a fuel. Particles that were no burned end up being suspended in the air. Acting is regularly dangerous because it contains harmful gases that deserve to poison a human who inhales too lot smoke.

You might be surprised to recognize that ours bodies also use “combustion” to create energy native oxygen and also food with metabolic processes. We need a stable supply of oxygen to save our bodies functioning normally; if there’s too small oxygen in the air, we’ll suffocate. At the exact same time, we can be thankful there’s not an ext oxygen in the air, or the chemistry reactions in our body would rate up, resulting in us to shortly “crash and burn”!

Too lot oxygen in the wait would additionally increase the threat of fires top top the earth. Due to the fact that nitrogen and argon are not an extremely reactive, waiting is pretty for sure for us.

Science Projects: exploring The four Elements

Make a Fire Extinguisher

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

What friend Need:Empty soda bottle5 tablespoons of vinegar1/2 tablespoon the baking sodaTea irradiate candleWhat girlfriend Do:

1. Irradiate the candle.

2. Pour the vinegar into the bottle and include the baking soda. (You may want to use a funnel.) The mixture need to fizz.

3. Host the bottle sideways over the lighted candle, making certain no liquid escapes. What happens to the flame?

What Happened:

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

Traveling Nutrients

Water is often called the global Solvent because it can dissolve much more substances than any other liquid, frequently carrying these liquified particles through it. When water travels through soil, nutrients (food) and dissolved corpuscle travel with the water to be deposited somewhere else. Below is an experiment to visually show how this procedure happens.

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

1. Mix the dried soil and also tempera paint thoroughly. Ar the funnel in the jar and also place the coffee filter in the funnel. Pour the soil mixture into the funnel.

2. Slowly pour 1/2 cup water right into the funnel, watching as the water runs the end of the funnel into the jar. Notice the color of the water.

3. Eliminate the funnel indigenous the jar and also pour the water right into a cup or container. Replace the funnel end the jar, through the coffee filter complete of sand tho in place.

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

What Happens:

You’ll an alert that when the very first half cup that water went with the soil, it come out as a really dark blue color. However, the water came out lighter through each added cup. Eventually, the water traveling through the soil come out clean in the jar. Did you count exactly how many fifty percent cups the water it took to make the water run clear?

The tempura paint in this experiment to represent the nutrients and dissolved particles discovered in the soil. Water is a an extremely 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 amount of nutrients and particles in the – the tempura paint. The water flowing with the soil had the ability to pick up a huge proportion the the “nutrients” and carry them with it with the funnel. Every subsequent putting of water picked up much more nutrients. With each pouring, the remaining nutrients came to be less and less until the water ran clear and also there were no more nutrients left to travel through the water.

Noteworthy Scientist: George Gabriel Stokes, 1819-1903

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

By experimenting and applying math to physics, Stokes came up with a regulation that explains the activity of a solid v a fluid or a gas. Well-known as Stoke’s Law, this legislation of viscosity created the science of hydrodynamics. Stoke’s Law defines cloud motion, wave motion, and also the resistance of water to ship movement.

Most that Stoke’s job-related revolved roughly waves (sound, light, and water) and how they move through miscellaneous mediums, such together water and gas. The experimented with just how wind affect the intensity of a sound and also how the strongness is affected by the form of gas the sound waves take trip through. That named and explained fluorescence and also investigated the wave concept of light. He additionally worked on expertise the various colored bands that might be checked out in a spectrum and made significant contributions to what we know around light and optics.

Stokes is often compared to teacher Isaac Newton due to the fact that there are plenty of parallels between Stoke’s life and Newton’s life: both had actually breakthrough discoveries, occurred laws the motion, investigated light and optics, hosted the same prestigious Lucasian Chair of mathematics at the university of Cambridge, and served in Parliament.

Fabulous Facts


Most gemstones contain number of elements. The exception? The diamond. It’s every carbon.

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

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

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


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

The deepest component 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) every square inch.

The human mind is 80% water.


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


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

The center of the sunlight 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 also atmosphere (about 49.5%).

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

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