Skip to Content

Systems and Scale | Activity 4.5

Activity 4.5: Explaining Ethanol Burning (40 min)

Students use the Explanations Tool to explain what happens to ethanol when it burns.

Materials You Provide

Resources Provided

Recurring Resources


Print one copy of the 4.5 Explanations Tool for Ethanol Burning for each student. Return students’ completed versions of the 4.3 Evidence-Based Arguments Tool for Ethanol Burning for review. In this activity, your students will need to use the Three Questions Explanations Checklist on the back of the Three Questions Handout. Be sure to have this available to students, and see the notes in the Modifications at the end of the Activity for ideas about how to use it. Decide if you will use the Big Idea Probe: Fill 'Er Up, Example Systems and Scale Explanations Handout, 4.5 What Happens When Ethanol Burns? Reading. Print copies of the ones you decide to use.


1. Use the instructional model to show students where they are in the course of the unit.

Show slide 2 of the 4.5 Explaining Ethanol Burning PPT.


During the class, circulate while students are comparing their explanations. Listen to see if they are able to explain ethanol burning at both the macroscopic and atomic-molecular scales. Use 4.5 Grading the Explanations Tool for Ethanol Burning to grade your students’ work on the 4.5 Explanations Tool for Ethanol Burning. At this point in the lesson, students should be held accountable for correct answers.