Museum of Science and Industry

What is a Flame from Ben Ames on Vimeo.

When actor Alan Alda was eleven years old, he asked his teacher, "What is a flame?" She responded, "Flame is oxidation." Does that phrase mean anything to you? Would it have meant anything to you when you were eleven? Alan Alda doesn’t think so. "I knew there had to be more to the mystery of a flame than just giving the mystery another name," he wrote in a March 2012 Science magazine editorial. So Alda proposed the Flame Challenge, a global competition to see who could best explain a flame in a way that an 11-year-old would understand and find entertaining.

Three months later, a winner has been chosen! Scientist, musician and animator Ben Ames has created an eight-minute video that goes into great detail about the science of flame. And it’s great. You can see Ben’s video above and other entries at the link below.

Related at MSI: learn more about fire in Science Storms.

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