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With the Hot Wax Chemical Demonstration Kit, students find out how much heat is released when melted wax solidifies. This three-part yet economical demo will “solidify” the concept of phase changes and related energy changes for students.

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Have you ever had melted wax drip on you? It’s hot! When melted wax solidifies, enough heat may be released to cause severe skin burns. Find out how much heat is released when melted wax solidifies with this three-part demonstration. Measure the temperature of “hot wax” as it cools, graph the cooling curve data to estimate the melting point, and then do a simple calorimetry test to calculate the heat of fusion of paraffin. The idea that a liquid releases heat when it solidifies is not obvious—this economical demonstration will really “solidify” the concept of phase changes and their related energy changes for your students!

Concepts: Phase changes, heat of fusion, calorimetry.
Time Required: 20 minutes


Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Constructing explanations and designing solutions

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
HS-PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect
Energy and matter
Stability and change

Performance Expectations

HS-PS1-3. Plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles.
HS-PS3-2. Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles (objects).