I am teaching two young boys (elementary school) some basics about chemistry, but I have to learn as I go myself.

Is this a viable model to explain oxidation and fire? When we light up the fireplace, oxygen "steals" electrons from the wood, which is carbon. But carbon won't let oxygen just leave with its electron(s), so this theft results in them clinging together, and we call that Co2.

At the moment they cling together, their tight grip gives off heat. We call this an exothermic reaction. This word may not be easy to remember, but think of "exhaust pipe" (going out, so "exo") and "thermos" (it stores something hot). So when you hear exothermic reaction you know it's a reaction that gives off heat.

And how much energy is required to get oxygen and carbon to let go of their tight grip? Exactly the same amout of thermic energy they gave off when they first clung together!

  • $\begingroup$ Why don you need that much to talk about electron in the first place? We had basic chemistry in elementary school, and no one was particularly puzzled by the basic concepts. $\endgroup$ – Greg Nov 11 '17 at 6:44
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    $\begingroup$ This interview with Feynman pretty much does the job. Since I've got nothing else to add to it, I've posted it here as a comment (instead of a full-fledged answer). O:) $\endgroup$ – paracetamol Nov 11 '17 at 8:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Greg. I've purchased a chemistry set for kids and I am going over everything with them. To get through it the concept of the electron must be introduced. $\endgroup$ – Gelb Nov 11 '17 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ @paracetamol. When you say you have nothing else to add, I'm assuming there were no blatant errors in my model? I just made it up, and I'm a complete neophyte in chemistry. Thanks a lot for the video! $\endgroup$ – Gelb Nov 11 '17 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Gelb You don’t need to introduce all the concepts, electrons, oxidation, bonds, heat etc in the same time just because it was said in a box $\endgroup$ – Greg Nov 11 '17 at 17:12