Year 9 Chemical Sciences – Oxygen, Oxidation and Combustion Lessons [NASA]



This is a three-lesson mini-unit on oxygen, oxidation and combustion, produced by NASA. It fits well under the Yr 9 Chemical Sciences strand of the Australian Curriculum. Students are introduced to exothermic reactions that involve oxidation. They measure the temperature of rusting steel wool and conclude that energy is released. Students also observe a candle flame and model the chain reaction that occurs during combustion and in obtaining energy from sugars.

Australian Curriculum Links:

  • Chemical reactions, including combustion and the reactions of acids, are important in both non-living and living systems and involve energy transfer  (ACSSU179)
  • Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence(ACSIS170)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations(ACSIS174)


  • Students identify oxygen as a reactive element that benefits humans by helping to convert sugars into energy in the cells.
  • Students explain combustion as a chemical reaction.

Main Lesson Concept

  • Oxygen is a highly reactive element involved in chemical reactions that release heat energy.
  • Oxygen is important to humans, because it helps convert sugars into energy in the cells.

Scientific Question

  • How does oxygen interact with other elements and molecules? How do these unique interactions affect human life?
Suggested Timeline (45-minute periods)

  • Day 1: Engage and Explore Sections
  • Day 2: Explore Section
  • Day 3: Extend and Evaluate Sections


See linked PDF for lesson plans, practical protocols, readings and student task templates.

Oxygen oxidation and combustion


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