Classroom Resources: States of Matter


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  • Interdisciplinary, History, Chemical Change | Middle School, High School

    Video: Spellbound Episode 1—A Sign on the Door: Ahmed Zewail, Ph.D.

    Produced for the 2011 International Year of Chemistry, the video series Spellbound, tells the story of scientists whose childhood curiosity about everyday things helped them launch careers in the lab, win Nobel Prizes and make other achievements. Their early childhood experiences may encourage young people into careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. This episode features Ahmed Zewail, Ph.D.

  • Physical Properties, Solubility, Polarity, Covalent Bonding, Intermolecular Forces, Molecular Geometry, Electronegativity | Middle School, High School

    Activity: The Chemistry of Water Video Questions

    In this lesson, students will watch a video and answer questions about how the molecular geometry and polarity of water give rise to many of its unusual physical properties, including its relatively high boiling point and its ability to dissolve some substances but not others.

  • Physical Properties, Solubility, Melting Point, Naming Compounds, Molecular Formula, Ionic Bonding, Ionic Radius, Ions | High School

    Activity: My Name is Bond, Ionic Bond

    In this lesson, students will demonstrate their knowledge of ionic bond strength using a “brackets” activity. Pairs of students start the activity playing a game of “Ionic Compound War” to build eight compounds. Then then transfer the compounds to a “bracket” and use their knowledge of ionic bonding, along with a solubility chart, to predict the strongest and weakest bond between four pairs of ionic substances.

  • Physical Properties, Solubility, Melting Point, Naming Compounds, Molecular Formula, Ionic Bonding, Ionic Radius, Ions | High School

    Activity: Ionic Bonding Brackets

    In this lesson, students will demonstrate their knowledge of ionic bond strength and its relationship to the properties of melting point and solubility using a “brackets” activity. After analyzing the ionic charge and radius to predict the strongest and weakest bond between four pairs of ionic substances, they will then determine which will be the least soluble.

  • Phase Changes, Molecular Motion

    Simulation: States of Matter and Phase Changes

    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.

  • Density, Physical Properties, Temperature, Gas Laws, Density, Pressure, Molecular Motion, Ideal Gas, Volume

    Simulation: Density

    The simulation for the September 2015 issue allows students to investigate the effect of changing variables on both the volume and the density of a solid, a liquid, and a gas sample. Students will analyze the different states of matter at the particle level as well as quantitatively.

  • Melting Point, Freezing Point, Phase Changes, Molecular Motion, Heat, Specific Heat, Temperature, Intermolecular Forces, Heating Curve, Boiling Point, Heat of Vaporization , Heat of Fusion

    Simulation: Heating Curve of Water

    In the May 2015 issue, students explore the heating curve for water from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. Students compare illustrations of each physical state depicted on the curve and calculate the energy required to transition from one state to another.

  • Physical Change, Intermolecular Forces, Polarity, Physical Change, Molecular Motion, Molecular Motion, Intermolecular Forces

    Simulation: Comparing Attractive Forces

    In the November 2014 issue, students explore the different attractive foreces between pairs of molecules by dragging the "star" image. In the accompanying activity, students investigate different types of intermolecular forces (London dispersion and dipole-dipole). In the analysis that follows the investigation, they relate IMFs (including hydrogen bonding) to physical properties (boiling point and solubility).

  • Melting Point, Phase Changes, Heat | Elementary School

    Lesson Plan: Chocolate Changes

    In this lesson, students will review what they know about the three states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas). They will perform a word sort about states of matter and discuss how substances can exist in more than one state of matter. Following this they will contribute to a KWL (Know, Want to know, Learned) chart. The teacher will conclude the lesson with a demonstration using chocolate.

  • Melting Point, Intermolecular Forces, Polarity, Boiling Point, Molecular Geometry | High School

    Activity: Examining the Strength of Intermolecular Forces of Attraction

    In this activity, students will be able to understand the strength of the attractions of the three intermolecular forces (IMFs) and use this information to help identify physical properties of molecules (such as melting point, boiling point or states of matter).

  • Melting Point, Phase Changes, Phase Diagram, Molecular Motion, Calorimetry, Heat, Specific Heat, Temperature, Intermolecular Forces, Heating Curve, Boiling Point, Law of Conservation of Energy | High School

    Lesson Plan: Phase Changes and Heat Transfer

    The AACT high school classroom resource library and multimedia collection has everything you need to put together a unit plan for your classroom: lessons, activities, labs, projects, videos, simulations, and animations. We constructed a unit plan using AACT resources that is designed to teach the Phase Changes and Heat Transfer to your students.

  • Phase Changes, Radiation, Half Lives, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Radioactive Dating: The Demise of Frosty

    In this activity students will investigate the idea that carbon dating is based on gathering evidence in the present and extrapolating it to the past. Students will use a simple graph to extrapolate data to its starting point and then pool the data to make a graph that simulates half-life. Students will be introduced to solving mathematical problems that involve half-life.

  • Phase Changes, Intermolecular Forces | High School

    Activity: The Behavior of Solids and Liquids

    In this activity, students will be able to explore and explain behaviors of liquids and solids based on the individual particles in the states of matter

  • Phase Changes, Molecular Motion | Middle School

    Activity: Atoms in Motion

    In this activity, students will explore how particles that make up matter are in constant motion. The students will use an online PhET simulation to compare the ways that atoms and molecules move in samples of solids, liquids, and gases. This activity will help students improve their understanding of the particle level.

  • Phase Changes, Molecular Motion | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Simulation Activity: States of Matter and Phase Changes

    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.

  • Density, Phase Changes, Specific Heat, Exothermic & Endothermic | High School

    Lab: Chemistry is Cooler Stress Test Challenge

    In this lab, students will design and build a device capable of insulating an ice cube submerged in boiling water for two minutes. In this open-ended inquiry based activity, students will be required to critically think about structure and function of the materials they wish to use to build a device to solve a complex real-world problem. Students must consider the thermal properties of the materials, density, and the need to form a non-permeable barrier between the ice cube and the boiling water.

  • Density, Molecular Motion | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Simulation Activity: Density Simulation

    In this simulation, students will investigate the effect of changing variables on both the volume and the density of a solid, a liquid and a gas sample. Students will analyze the different states of matter at the particle level as well as quantitatively. This lesson accompanies the simulation from the September 2015 issue of Chemistry Solutions.

  • Physical Properties, Molecular Motion | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Categorizing States of Matter

    In this activity students will analyze both written statements and images that describe the properties of a solid, liquid or gas. Students will determine which state of matter the description best describes and categorize it accordingly.

  • Mixtures, Melting Point, Freezing Point, Phase Changes, Freezing Point Depression | High School, Middle School

    Lab: How does Salt "Melt" Ice?

    In this lab, students will consider why salt is used to aide in snow clearing and to help keep icy roads safe. They will investigate how salt ‘melts’ ice and determine the best type of salt to do so. Additionally, students will explore the advantages and disadvantages of the various different types of salt.

  • Separating Mixtures, Phase Changes, Physical Change, Distillation | Middle School

    Activity: Distillation in Survival Mode

    In this activity, students will investigate methods for purifying water as they consider a survival based situation that requires clean drinking water. Students will investigate processes such as boiling and distillation, as well as review the phase changes within the water cycle.

  • Phase Changes, Elements, Mixtures | High School

    Activity: Visualizing States of Matter

    In this activity, students will view, sort and classify pure substances and mixtures into the 3 common states of matter found in the laboratory. Students will also discuss their classification system with their teacher and peers.

  • Physical Properties, Phase Changes, Polymers | Middle School

    Lab: Changing a Monomer to a Polymer!

    In this lab, students will have the opportunity to see the complexity of the different phases of matter. This lab will allow students to investigate polymers and physical properties, while connecting these concepts to the phases of matter. Students will also better understand that some substances are not easily identified as a particular phase of matter and that some substances can have characteristics of more than one phase of matter.

  • Density, Temperature, Density, Molecular Motion | Elementary School

    Lab: Observing Density of Gases and Liquids

    Students will learn about and discuss the behavior of a gas using examples of convection and an optional teacher-led demonstration. Students will then participation in a lab where they will investigate water currents by observing the results of mixing colored warm water with room temperature water. The lab will be followed by a discussion about the molecular activity of the water mixture.

  • Physical Properties, Melting Point, Phase Changes, Boiling Point | Elementary School, Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Investigating Water's States of Matter

    In this lesson, the students will identify properties of different states of matter, and then work in groups to model molecular arrangement in the solid, liquid, and gaseous states of water. This lesson will also help students to understand that the change in state as a physical change and how the solid state of water has unique properties.

  • Density, Phase Changes | Elementary School

    Lab: Making Clouds

    In this lab students will investigate liquid density by creating model “clouds” with shaving cream in a glass of water. They will add food coloring in order to make the clouds heavy and cause them to rain.

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