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Simulation Activity: States of Matter and Phase Changes Mark as Favorite (63 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Phase Changes, Molecular Motion. Last updated March 25, 2020.


In this simulation, students will participate in a 10 question quiz. Some questions will challenge students to analyze data to identify the correct state of matter for a specific sample, and then connect the chosen state with an animated particle diagram. In addition, students will examine the behavior of particles in an animated sample as they undergo a phase change, and must correctly identify the change that occurs.

Grade Level

High and Middle school

NGSS Alignment

This simulation will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • MS-PS1-4: Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Analyzing and Interpreting Data


By the end of this simulation, students should be able to

  • Identify a state of matter based on a particle diagram.
  • Differentiate between the states of matter based on the behavior of particles in a sample.
  • Analyze data associated with physical properties (melting point and boiling point) to determine the state of matter of a given sample.
  • Determine which phase change is occurring by analyzing the behavior of particles in a sample.
  • Accurately distinguish between six possible phase changes: melting, freezing, evaporation, condensation, sublimation, and deposition.

Chemistry Topics

This simulation supports students’ understanding of

  • States of Matter
  • Phase Changes
  • Particle Diagrams
  • Melting Point
  • Boiling Point


Teacher Preparation: minimal

Lesson: 20-30 minutes



  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • This simulation could be used during a unit on states of matter and phase changes.
  • The simulation was designed for high school students, but may also be appropriate for middle school students in a physical science class.
  • Each quiz randomizes the order of 10 questions, so students should not have the same order of questions as a peer.
  • The quiz accesses 16 possible questions, so that a student could repeat the quiz, if they are in need of additional practice, and would not be given the same 10 questions again.
  • There are 2 different types of questions used in the quiz:
    • Determining states of matter: These questions challenge the student to consider the current temperature of a sample and then analyze physical property data for the sample (melting point and boiling point). Based on the information the student should be able to determine the state of matter for the sample. To correctly answer the question the student will choose an animated particle diagram that represents the state of matter of the sample.
    • Phase change animations: These questions present the student with a 10 second animation of a phase change occurring at the particle level. Based on the changes observed in the behavior of particles during the animation, students should be able to determine which phase change is represented. Multiple choice answers are provided to select from: melting, freezing, evaporation, condensation, sublimation, and deposition.
  • Important Notes:
    • All data points used in the simulation are assuming atmospheric pressure.
    • The animated particle diagrams are intended to show the basic organization of particles. Spheres are used to represent all substances, regardless of the complexity of the particle substance used in the question. Intermolecular forces, as well as crystal structures are not implied in the animations.