What are the 4 Elements?

Science Lesson: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire

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

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

The idea the these four facets – earth, water, air, and fire – comprised all issue was the cornerstone that philosophy, science, and medicine for two thousand year (kids love come ask concerns on the elements).

The aspects were “pure” however could not be found in the state ~ above earth. Every visible thing was consisted of of some mix of earth, water, air, and also fire.

The four elements were also used to explained the four temperaments a person can have, and Hippocrates supplied the four facets to describe the 4 “humors” discovered in the body. This theories declared that the temperaments and also humors required to it is in in balance v each other in order because that a human to be fine both mentally and physically.

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

Although the Greeks thought that the four facets were unchanging in nature, every little thing was made up of different elements, i m sorry were organized together or pushed apart by forces of attraction and repulsion, leading to substances to show up to change. This is comparable to what yes, really happens through elements and also all molecule at an atomic level.

Matter is something that has mass and volume and also is made up of atoms, which are the the smallest particles of matter. Bonding occurs amongst atoms come make larger molecules. (Click below to learn more about bonding.) Mass is just how much issue is in things whereas volume is how much space the object takes up. Exactly how atoms are arranged in things determines even if it is it is a solid, liquid, gas, or plasma.

In a solid, the atoms space packed carefully together in an ordered pattern and also cannot move, offering a solid a definite volume and shape. Instances of solids include rocks, wood, metal, and ice.In a liquid, the atoms space close together but can move about each other. This enables a liquid to take it the form of whatever container that is put in. Examples of liquids include room temperature water, room temperature mercury, and also hot lava (molten rock).In a gas, over there is much more space in between atoms. The atoms deserve to move so easily that if the gas is not trapped in a container, the atoms will diffuse and spread transparent the atmosphere. Examples of gases room oxygen and also nitrogen (in the air we breathe), helium, and heavy steam (water vapor).In a plasma, the atoms space spaced likewise to gas other than there is for this reason much power in a plasma, the atoms actually break-up into smaller pieces. Plasmas are able to bring an electrical current and generate magnetic fields. Examples of plasmas include lightning, solar wind, the sun, fluorescent lights, and neon signs.

Temperature plays an important role in how the atoms are aligned in a substance. Together a general preeminence of thumb, the colder the matter is, the closer the atoms space to each other, and the warmer the matter is, the furthermore the atoms space apart. The course, the temperature at which a matter is a hard or a liquid relies on what substance the issue is do of. Because that example, water in ~ room temperature is a liquid whereas a absent at room temperature is solid.

Science Lesson: The Four aspects in daily Life

First Element: Earth


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The earth is full of a wide range of rocks and minerals which offers the floor to grow vegetation and also support life. The two many common aspects in the earth’s crust space oxygen (46%) and also silicon (28%). Because of this, the most abundant mineral in the earth’s tardy is silica (silicon dioxide). An ext commonly known as sand, silica is a significant component the glass. How can glass be made out of sand? Interestingly, as soon as silica is heated, that melts and becomes glass, hardening as it cools.

Rich deposits of steel ores are discovered throughout the earth’s crust. While these metals are offered in the production of machinery, tools, buildings, and also weapons, right out that the earth these steels are pretty useless. Fire is offered to heat, refine, and also shape steel so that machines, hammers, and support beams deserve to be do from it.

It is easy to think the the planet as gift solid dirt through and also through, however in truth it is made up of numerous layers. While numerous of these layers space solid, the layer that surrounds the core is referred to as the liquid outer core. The is so hot inside the earth that the rock at this layer has actually actually melted. The hard inner core is just as hot as the fluid layer bordering it, yet the push on the inner main point is so an excellent that scientists think it is “pressed” into a solid.

Second Element: Water

Water has many unique properties. The chemical formula that water is H20, definition it is made of 2 hydrogen atom bonded come one oxygen atom. The hydrogen atom each affix to one side of the oxygen atom and have a hopeful charge whereas the oxygen atom has a an adverse charge. This polarizes the water molecule, lot like a magnet, offering a water molecule optimistic and an unfavorable ends.

Since opposite charges attract, water molecules often tend to “stick” together. This provides water surface tension and enables objects, such as paperclips, come float ~ above it.

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


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Water traveling with your body or with the ground bring away chemicals, minerals, and also nutrients with it. Water’s capacity to dissolve substances helps save the world healthy. For much more than a century, the burning of fossil fuels has pumped large amounts that carbon dioxide (CO2) right into the atmosphere. The water in oceans have soaked up about half of this CO2 by dissolving the gas from the air and also processing that by sea vegetation.

Water has actually a high specific heat index, an interpretation that the takes a lot of of power to readjust its temperature. This is necessary for life to make it through on a planet. The abundance of water ~ above the planet keeps the world in a very short but comfortable temperature range. The median surface temperature that the earth is 59 ° F with the highest possible recorded temperature 135.9 ° F and also the lowest taped temperature -128.6 ° F.

To compare, it would seem logical the Mercury, the closest earth to the sun, would remain really warmth on every surfaces the the planet, regardless if that was dealing with the sunlight or not. However, when the surface encountering the sunlight does reach really warm temperatures (up to 800 ° F), the surfacing dealing with away indigenous the sun drops come a it will be cold -280 ° F. Mercury’s absence of water is responsible for this drastic 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 save temperature indigenous drastic fluctuations, pay fist to the adjust between daytime and also nighttime temperatures the next time friend visit a marine (near the ocean) or desert climate. You’ll probably notification there is tiny to no temperature readjust near the ocean, whereas in the desert there is a significant change in daytime and nighttime temperatures.

This high certain heat index also helps water put out fire by cooling the fuel surfaces the the fire is burning, removed the warmth needed because that the fire to burn. Water also smothers a fire by avoiding it from obtaining the oxygen it needs to burn.

Third Element: Air

Air was taken into consideration a “pure” element, but in reality the waiting that’s all approximately us is comprised of a range of gases: mostly nitrogen and oxygen, with nearly 1% argon and also even smaller quantities of carbon dioxide and also other facets such together krypton and helium. The composition of air is simply right because that life top top Earth, though.


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We use a the majority of the oxygen we obtain from the air, climate breathe the end carbon dioxide – which plants need to manufacture your food with photosynthesis. Plants in turn give off oxygen throughout photosynthesis.

Although wait is invisible (and most of the time we forget the is even there), it does take up space, it has volume, and also it exerts pressure. This have the right to be seen as soon as you take it an “empty” glass, turn it upside down, and try to press it down to the bottom that a sink full of water.

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

If the glass to be truly empty, the water would quickly fill the inside of the glass. But air is in there, and also only a tiny amount of water can go into the glass. The wait in the glass to be compressed, providing the water some an are that to be previously inhabited with air.

It is a an excellent thing that air filling empty an are because air all approximately us actually presses under on us all the time. We would certainly collapse under the weight of the air, except air is additionally inside us and exerts press that balances out the pressure exerted by the external air.

Fourth Element: Fire

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

The strongness of a fire varies due to the fact that it is dependent on the oxygen, fuel, and heat easily accessible to it. Once all 3 of this things room in a controlled situation, such together in candle or a campfire, fires are considered helpful. However when one or more of this things room not controlled, such together in a wildfire or a burning building, fires can easily become really dangerous.

To extinguish a fire, the oxygen, fuel, or warmth needs to be removed. “Smothering” a fire by put a ceiling or dust on the works since the fire goes out without oxygen. The earth provides wealth of fuel in the type of wood and fossil fuels such together coal. As soon as the fuel is removed, the fire has nothing left come burn and also is extinguished. Water regularly serves together an effective cooling resource by remove the heat from a fire. This is seen when hot lava indigenous an erupting volcano start the s or as soon as a bucket the water is dumped top top a campfire.


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Fire creates light, heat, and also smoke by a quick chemical reaction dubbed combustion. Smoke is the result of the incomplete combustion (burning) of a fuel. Particles the were not burned end up being suspended in the air. Acting is often dangerous due to the fact that it contains harmful gases that have the right to poison a human who inhales too much smoke.

You might be surprised to recognize that our bodies likewise use “combustion” to develop energy indigenous oxygen and food through metabolic processes. We need a stable supply the oxygen to store our body functioning normally; if there’s too tiny oxygen in the air, we’ll suffocate. At the same time, we deserve to be thankful there’s not more oxygen in the air, or the chemical reactions in our bodies would speed up, causing us to shortly “crash and also burn”!

Too lot oxygen in the wait would also increase the risk of fires top top the earth. Since nitrogen and argon space not really reactive, waiting is pretty for sure for us.

Science Projects: exploring The 4 Elements

Make a Fire Extinguisher

In order to placed out a fire, among three things need to be gotten rid of from it: heat, fuel, or oxygen. Knowing this, firefighters don’t constantly use water to placed out a fire.

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

1. Light the candle.

2. To water the vinegar into the party and add the baking soda. (You might want to usage a funnel.) The mixture should fizz.

3. Organize 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 do carbon dioxide, a gas the is heavier than oxygen. Together it “pours” the end of the bottle, that pushes the lighter oxygen far from the candle. The fire, now deprived of oxygen, have the right to no much longer burn.

Traveling Nutrients

Water is often called the universal Solvent because it have the right to dissolve much more substances than any kind of other liquid, regularly carrying these dissolved particles through it. Once water travels with soil, nutrient (food) and dissolved particles travel with the water to it is in deposited somewhere else. Right here is one experiment come visually show how this procedure happens.

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

1. Mix the dry soil and tempera paint thoroughly. Place the funnel in the jar and also place the coffee filter in the funnel. To water the floor mixture into the funnel.

2. Gradually pour 1/2 cup water into the funnel, watching together the water runs the end of the funnel into the jar. Notification the shade of the water.

3. Remove the funnel indigenous the jar and pour the water into a cup or container. Change the funnel over the jar, through the coffee filter full of sand quiet in place.

4. Repeat actions 2 and also 3 with a new 1/2 cup that water number of times, saving the water in a new cup after every pouring.

What Happens:

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

The tempura repaint in this experiment represents the nutrients and also dissolved particles uncovered in the soil. Water is a really efficient transporter of corpuscle as confirmed by the shade of water together it was poured with the soil. The soil started with a fairly high amount of nutrients and particles in it – the tempura paint. The water flowing through the soil was able to pick up a huge proportion that the “nutrients” and also carry them with it v the funnel. Each subsequent pouring of water choose up an ext nutrients. V each pouring, the continuing to be nutrients became less and less until the water ran clear and also there were no much more nutrients left to travel through the water.

Noteworthy Scientist: George Gabriel Stokes, 1819-1903

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

By experimenting and also applying mathematics to physics, Stokes came up with a legislation that explains the motion of a solid with a fluid or a gas. Known as Stoke’s Law, this regulation of viscosity established the science of hydrodynamics. Stoke’s Law explains cloud motion, wave motion, and the resistance the water to ship movement.

Most of Stoke’s work-related revolved approximately waves (sound, light, and water) and how they relocate through assorted mediums, such together water and also gas. He experimented with how wind influence the intensity of a sound and also how the soot is influenced 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 understanding the different colored bands that could be watched in a spectrum and made far-ranging contributions to what us know about light and also optics.

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

Fabulous Facts

Earth

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

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

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

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

Water

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

The deepest part 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 press is 18,000 pounds (9172 kilograms) every square inch.

The human mind is 80% water.

Air

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

Fire

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

The center of the sun is around 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 water both cause erosion to the earth, moving large amounts the sand and also rock come tear under mountains and build new structures.