“There is no more open door,” said Michael Faraday, “by which you can enter into the study of science than by considering the physical phenomena of a candle.” Through a careful examination of a burning candle, Faraday introduces readers to the concepts of mass, density, heat conduction, capillary action, and convection currents. He demonstrates the difference between chemical and physical processes. He reveals the properties of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. And, in a stunning final lecture, he uses a candle to explain human respiration.
The companion book contains the complete transcript of each lecture as delivered in the video series. To help readers grasp Faraday’s key points the book has an “Essential Background” section that explains in modern terms how a candle works. And, to help the modern reader, each lecture is preceded by a short guide written in contemporary language. These guides mirror the lectures chronologically so a viewer can follow while watching.
In addition every video lectures can be viewed with a commentary track by book's authors. These commentaries explain the background and purpose of every aspect of the lectures.
Michael Faraday aimed his lectures toward those new to science, especially young people. His lectures remain today an excellent introduction to the scientific method and serve well as an entry point to the chemical sciences. For this reason the companion book features a detailed teaching guide. It contains a section “The Big Ideas of Chemistry,” that outlines the essential chemical background needed to understand the phenomena Faraday touches on in his lectures. This section uses simple analogies to give younger students an entry point to understanding the particulate nature of matter. The guide contains six activities and one set of demonstrations that teachers can use to help students investigate for themselves “the chemical history of a candle.” Each activity has a student worksheet followed by a teacher’s guide. Teachers and self-learners can get the teaching and student sections by either downloading the entire book, or by downloading the student worksheets and teaching guide separately. Activities for the following are included:
This series was created by Bill Hammack, Don DeCoste and Alex Black. Bill Hammack is a Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois—Urbana, where he focuses on educating the public about engineering and science. This outreach work has been recognized by The National Association of Science Writer’s Science in Society Award; the American Chemical Society’s Grady-Stack Medal, and the American Institute of Physics’ Science Writing Award. Don DeCoste is a Specialist in Education in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois—Urbana, where he teaches freshmen and pre-service high school chemistry teachers. He has won the LAS Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the Provost’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the School of Chemical Sciences teaching award (four times). He is the co-author of four chemistry textbooks. Alex Black, at the time the series was filmed, was a University of Illinois undergraduate studying chemistry.
This video series was produced with support from the Special Grants Program of the Dreyfus Foundation, from a Public Engagement Grant from the University of Illinois-Urbana, and from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Michael Faraday’s The Chemical History of a Candle
with Guides to the Lectures, Teaching Guides & Student Activities
Bill Hammack & Don DeCoste
190 pages | 5 x 8 | 14 illustrations
Hardcover (Casebound) | ISBN 978-0-9838661-8-0 | $24.95
Paper | ISBN 978-1-945441-00-4 | $11.99
eBook | ISBN 978-0-9839661-9-7 | $3.99
Audience 01 — General Trade
SCI013000 SCIENCE / Chemistry / General
SCI028000 SCIENCE / Experiments & Projects
SCI000000 SCIENCE / General
EDU029030 EDUCATION / Teaching Methods & Materials / Science & Technology
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Description This book introduces modern readers to Michael Faraday’s great nineteenth-century lectures on The Chemical History of a Candle. This companion to the YouTube series contains supplemental material to help readers appreciate Faraday’s key insight that “there is no more open door by which you can enter into the study of science than by considering the physical phenomena of a candle.” Through a careful examination of a burning candle, Faraday’s lectures introduce readers to the concepts of mass, density, heat conduction, capillary action, and convection currents. They demonstrate the difference between chemical and physical processes, such as melting, vaporization, incandescence, and all types of combustion. And the lectures reveal the properties of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, including their relative masses and the makeup of the atmosphere. The lectures wrap up with a grand, and startling, analogy: by understanding the chemical behavior of a candle the reader can grasp the basics of respiration. To help readers understand Faraday’s key points this book has an “Essential Background” section that explains in modern terms how a candle works, introductory guides for each lecture written in contemporary language, and seven student activities with teaching guides.