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.

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

    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.

  • 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, 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Phase Changes, Physical Change | Middle School

    Lab: I Can’t Believe It’s Butter!

    In this lab students will learn about the phases of matter and phase changes while making a small sample of butter.

  • Renewable Energy, Phase Changes, Photosynthesis | Elementary School, Middle School

    Lab: Mini Terrarium

    In this lab, students will learn that even the smallest spaces can have their own climate. They will create a miniature sized terrarium and will observe how sunlight enters in order to warm the air, and in turn heat the soil and seeds. Condensation will build up in the container and the students can observe the water cycle in action, as well as the growth of the seeds over time.

  • Phase Changes | Middle School

    Project: Sharing Matter

    In this project, students will design a lesson and activity about the states of matter to share with elementary school students. This project embraces the spirit of the famous quote by Roman philosopher Seneca: by teaching, we learn. In order to successfully teach one of the states of matter to younger students, each group must have advanced knowledge of the subject.

  • Separating Mixtures, Density, Physical Properties, Phase Changes, Interdisciplinary, Culminating Project, Matter | Elementary School, Middle School

    Activity: The Castaway!

    In this activity, students use their knowledge of the properties of matter to create and/or design items needed for survival on a deserted island.

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

    Lab: Freezing Ice Cream

    In this lab, students will investigate changing states of matter, chemical reactions, and the properties of ice and salt while creating their own ice cream.

  • Chemical Change, Melting Point, Phase Changes, Physical Change, Chemical Change, Scientific Method | Middle School

    Lab: S'more Change Please

    In this lab, students will be able to demonstrate the difference between a physical and chemical change by making ooey, gooey, yet yummy S’mores!

  • Chemical Change, Phase Changes, Interdisciplinary, Culminating Project, Conservation of Mass, Chemical Change | Middle School, High School

    Project: Law of Conservation of Mass Comic Strip

    In this project, students will work in groups to create a comic strip that illustrates understanding of the law of conservation of mass.

  • Melting Point, Freezing Point, Phase Changes, Molecular Motion, Heat, Temperature, Heating Curve, Graphing | High School, Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Modeling the Melting of Ice

    In this lesson, students will create a particulate model of matter that explains energy changes and transfer during a phase change.

  • Molecular Motion, Intermolecular Forces | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Simulation Activity: Molecular Motion

    In this simulation, students will have the opportunity to explore on the molecular level how particles move in three states of matter. They will compare two different substances.

  • Observations, Density, Sublimation | High School, Middle School

    Lab: Dry Ice (High School)

    In this lab, students perform several small experiments using dry ice and record their observations.

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

    Activity: Simulation Activity: Heating Curve of Water

    In this simulation, students will investigate qualitatively and quantitatively what happens as water changes states.

  • Observations, Inferences, Molecular Motion, Temperature | High School, Middle School

    Demonstration: What is Temperature?

    In this demonstration, students will observe food dye mixing with water at different temperatures.

  • Observations, Molecular Motion, Heat, Specific Heat, Temperature | High School, Middle School

    Activity: What Makes Something Feel Warm

    In this lesson students actively engage in thinking about energy issues in chemistry and the nature of energy (thermal) transfer. The idea that temperature is a measure of heat content will be challenged, and students will be given the opportunity to collect data that will allow them to clearly see that different materials transfer energy at different rates.

  • Freezing Point, Physical Change, Temperature, Exothermic & Endothermic, Boiling Point | High School, Middle School

    Demonstration: Energy

    In this demonstration, students will observe the exothermic and endothermic properties of state changes of substances with different freezing and boiling points.

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