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Discussion in 'Primary' started by fhemeeda, Apr 6, 2012.
Why is fire not a living organism and why might children believe it is a living organism?
Maybe I haven't asked enough children...my five year old just told me fire is alive (although apparently he 'just knows' it is! My eight year old though, immediately scoffed at the idea. Interestingly, she (without prompting) explained that 'it only moves because of the wind', which perhaps backs up the idea that, for young children, movement carries more weight when they intuitively decide whether something is 'alive'!
It is not alive, because it does not respire at a cellular level.
However, it fits all of MRS GREN.
it moves (and not just cos of wind), it 'respires' ( if you teach that respiration is breathing, which it isn't but until GCSE biology I thought it was because we teach it that way), it is sensitive ( it responds to wind, water being thrown on it), it grows,it reproduces (take a burning branch), it excretes (ash) and it requires nutrition (fuel). It fits MRS GREN perfectly. I remember arguing this with my teacher in y5 - I knew dam well it wasn't alive but used the above to prove it was. It wasn't until I tried this on my a level biology teacher who informed me MRS GREN is over simplified and that to be alive something must respire at a cellular level ie it must produce glucagon via either aerobic or anaerobic respiration. This is very difficult to explain to young children though (hands up here who can explain the above processes?) thus we explain using MRS GREN which doesn't quite work. Most kids do know that fire isn't alive though and the ones who argue otherwise will be trying to be clever!