Tips and Tricks
The Flame Challenge
How do you explain a flame to an 11-year-old?
The Center for Communicating Science is hosting a contest to do just that.
We’re asking scientists to answer the question – “What is a flame?” – in a way that an 11-year-old would find intelligible and maybe even fun.
The contest idea came from Alan Alda, who originated this idea in Science.
I was 11 and I was curious. I had been thinking for days about the flame at the end of a candle. Finally, I took the problem to my teacher. “What’s a flame?” I asked her. “What’s going on in there?”
There was a slight pause and she said, “It’s oxidation.” She didn’t seem to think there was much else to say. Deflated, I knew there had to be more to the mystery of a flame than just giving the mystery another name.
The winning entry will be unveiled at a special event at the World Science Festival in New York in June. The winner will get VIP tickets to the Festival, along with a Flame Challenge T-shirt, and the gratitude of a nation of 11-year-olds.
Entries can be written, spoken (on video), or told through graphics. And entries aren't limited to Americans; they currently have submissions from around the world. To enter, see the online entry form.
Submission deadline: April 2, 2012.
Edited July 9 with the winning entry from Ben Ames, a PhD student in Austria.
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