The Flame Challenge #sol17

Nerd alert: I have been a fan of Science Friday for many years now.  I dutifully listen to two 45-minute podcasts every week, and I always enjoy learning about all of the amazing science going on around the world.

Several years ago, they had the actor Alan Alda on the program talking about The Flame Challenge.  He created this challenge because when he asked his 5th grade teacher what a flame was, he was unsatisfied with her answer (it’s oxidation!), and thought that scientists should be able to explain scientific principles in ways that 10 year olds can understand.  Every year, he posed a scientific question and 5th graders critiqued scientists’ submissions.  The winner goes on Science Friday (and probably gets something else, but I’m not sure what it is).

As a teacher, I have wanted to participate in The Flame Challenge since I first heard about it.  And this year, I am teaching 5th grade.  Yay!  I was stoked to do the Challenge this year with my students as we explored the question: What is energy?

This afternoon, we looked at three written submissions and two visual submissions and judged them on clarity, interest, learning, and vocabulary.  My students loved getting to critique real scientists’ work, and they learned a lot about energy.  A great way to end the day before Spring Break.



4 thoughts on “The Flame Challenge #sol17

  1. Lisa says:

    I love that – I just worked an Energy project for my GS troop to participate in. I’ll look that up, And I love the beginning – ‘Nerd Alert’ – it captured my interest! : ) Thanks for the great slice!


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