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States of Matter

Teacher Guide by Oliver Smith

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States of Matter Lesson Plans

Student Activities for States of Matter Include:

Matter can be described as anything that takes up space in our universe. We are made of matter and surrounded by matter. All matter is made from tiny particles called atoms. There are a limited number of different types of atoms and these can all be found in the periodic table. The type of particle and how the particles are arranged decide what that matter will look like and what it can do. A good understanding of states of matter is key to being able to describe the universe around us.

States of Matter Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Properties of the Different States of Matter


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Have your students show their understanding of states of matter using this T-Chart storyboard activity. This is a great way for students to organize their ideas.

Carry out this activity at the start of learning about states of matter as a baseline or at the end of learning to see who much they have learned.



This activity can be easily differentiated to be more accessible to a wide range of students. The template associated with this assignment is a simple T-Chart. To make this activity more accessible, use the template above or the completed example below as a starting point. Remove columns so students only have to create the particle arrangement for each state of matter, or even just come up with example of solids, liquids, and gases. Modify the resources to best fit the needs of your students.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a T-Chart that matches the states of matter to their particle arrangement and properties.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Add two columns and title the columns: State of Matter, Arrangement, Properties - Flow, and Properties, Compression.
  3. Identify each state of matter and create a visualization in the first column.
  4. In the second column create the particle arrangement for each state with shapes and write a description.
  5. Identify and illustrate flow for each state of matter, and give the reason.
  6. In the final column, identify and illustrate compression for each state of matter, and give the reason.
  7. Save and submit your storyboard. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Vocabulary for the States of Matter


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Have your students put key vocabulary into practice. One of the things students can find really difficult is using chemistry and physics vocabulary correctly and in the appropriate context. Using a visual representation or visual examples, as well as a written one, can really help students understand abstract concepts.


Example States of Matter Vocabulary


Solid

A state of matter where the particles are arranged in a regular way, close together.


Liquid

A state of matter where the particles are arranged in a random way, close together.


Gas

A state of matter where the particles are arranged in a random way, far apart from each other.


Melting

If a solid is heated, it changes to a liquid. This change is called melting.


Evaporating

If a liquid is heated, it changes to a gas. This change is called evaporating.


Condensing

If a gas is cooled, it changes to a liquid. This change is called condensing.


Freezing

If a liquid is cooled, it changes to solid. This change is called freezing.


Other terms include:

  • sublimation
  • bond
  • compress
  • density
  • heat
  • room temperature
  • melting point
  • boiling point
  • pressure

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of key scientific vocabulary by creating visualizations.

  1. Choose five vocabulary words and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence to define the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to give examples of the words.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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States of Matter Discussion Storyboard


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Discussion storyboards are a great way to get your students talking about their ideas in Science. They allow students to critique and evaluate different viewpoints without upsetting other students. This activity can be used at the start of the topic to elicit any misconceptions students may have.

At first, show students a discussion storyboard like the one below. Ask them to look at the problem on the discussion storyboard. It shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. Students should think about whom they think is the most correct and be prepared to explain why that person is correct.

Here are some other ideas to use these discussion storyboards in your lessons.

  1. Students add another cell on the end of the example you’ve given them to explain whom they think is correct and why.
  2. Students create their own discussion storyboards to share with peers on the current topic.

Note that the template in this assignment is blank. After clicking "Copy Assignment", add your desired problem and solutions to match the needs of your students.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Read the discussion storyboard that shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. You are going to give your opinion on whom you think is correct and explain why.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Add another cell at the end of the row.
  3. Use text and images to explain whom you think is correct and why.
  4. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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The Story of a Water Particle


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Get your students to show off their creativity by making a narrative storyboard telling an imaginative story about a particle going through various state changes. This activity really reminds students that the particles that make up solid ice, liquid water and gaseous steam are the same type of particles. Students often have the misconception that particles change when they change state.

The example shows a story of water particles in an ice cube. As the water and ice heats up, the particles gain energy and are able to move around. Then when the glass is left on the window sill, the water evaporates and the gas particles become free!

You could also tie this activity in with teaching the water cycle by getting your students to make a narrative storyboard of a water particle being evaporated from a water source, condensing in the clouds, then freezing and falling back to Earth as a snowflake or raindrop.

Differentiate this activity by deleting the information from the particle section of the example storyboard, leaving the first row completed in a template for students to fill in. Alternatively, have students start with a blank T-Chart and let your students’ imaginations run wild.


PLEASE NOTE: The example storyboard uses different shades of blue to emphasize the particles in different states and NOT to suggest they are different types of particles.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Demonstrate your understanding of the states of matter by creating a narrative storyboard. Tell the story of a water particle and explain what happens as the particle changes state. You should include all three states of matter and at least two state changes.

Make sure you explain what is happening in the real world and what is happening at the particle level. You could put faces on your particles and even give them names!


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Create your narrative storyboard. Add cells as needed.
  3. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Changes in the States of Matter


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In this activity, students will demonstrate their knowledge of key words and concepts in this storyboard activity. Students will depict the particle arrangement for each state of matter and use some of the key vocabulary from the topic to describe the changes between each state.

This activity could be used a baseline activity at the start of a topic as a formative assessment of their knowledge on the subject and inform planning, or as a summative assessment at the end to see what they’ve learned.

This could also be an interesting place to introduce your students to sublimation. Sublimation is the process in which a substance goes from the solid to the gas state without becoming a liquid. Carbon Dioxide (CO2), or dry ice, is an example of a material that does this.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

You are going to demonstrate your knowledge of the particle arrangement of the different states and names of the different state changes.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Use the shape function to draw particles into the containers and arrange them for a solid, liquid and gas.
  3. Using text, label the arrows with the names of the different state changes.
  4. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Teacher Background on Matter

The history of atoms and particles dates back thousands of years. Empedocles was a Greek philosopher who is famous for his theory that all matter was made by four different elements: earth, air, water and fire.

Democritus is often cited as the father of atom theory and first used the term ‘atomos’ (which translates as indivisible) to describe his idea that matter was made of small particles. He came to this idea after thinking about continually breaking a rock into smaller and smaller pieces. He decided there must be a stage where you cannot break the rock into any more pieces. It wasn’t until the English Chemist John Dalton's work nearly 2000 years later that atomic theory became part the accepted scientific viewpoint. Dalton proposed that all the elements were made of different types of atoms and that these atoms were unbreakable. Although now we know atoms can be broken through nuclear reactions, many of his ideas have stood the test of time. In 1827 botanist Robert Brown observed pollen grains moving around in water seemingly on their own. This Brownian motion was later put to bed by Albert Einstein who hypothesized that it was the movement of the water molecules that were making the pollen grains move.

We are surrounded by matter; our lives would be impossible without it. Matter comes in three states: solid, liquid or gas. This teacher guide uses the simple ball model of particles to explain more complicated molecules. A water ‘particle’ is actually made up of three atoms, but treating it as one particle makes it easier to understand when describing the arrangement of the molecules.

In a solid, the particles are arranged in a regular pattern and are very close together. They cannot move around each other, but can vibrate about a fixed point. Of the three states, particles in solids have the lowest energy. As the particles get more energy (often by being heated), they vibrate more. There becomes a point when the particles have sufficient energy that they can start to move around each other. We describe this state as liquid. In a liquid, the particles are still very close together, but have a random arrangement. They still vibrate, but can move past each other, this allows liquids to flow. The particles' ability to move is also why liquids will fill the shape of whatever container they are in. If we heat these particles even more, the bonds between the particles break and they become a gas. The particle arrangement for gases is random and the particles are spaced out. They fly around colliding with each other and the sides of their containers. They are compressible as there is lots of space between the particles. The more they are compressed, the more they collide with their container and each other.

The most commonly used example to teach students about the states of matter is H2O, or water. This is one of the few substances that can be found naturally on Earth in all three states. Water has a melting point at 0° C (32° F, 273.2 K) and has a boiling point of 100° C (212° F and 373.2 K). Water is most commonly used because students have experience with all three states. Ice, water, and steam are all made from the same type of particle, but each of the substances look and feel very different. Water is quite strange, however; ice is less dense than water and the solid floats on top of the liquid, which is not typical of other substances. This peculiarity has allowed living creatures to survive in the water insulated by the ice and life to evolve the way it has.

How the particles of a substance are arranged determine the different properties of a material. Diamond and graphite are made of the same types of particles, but have completely different properties. Diamonds are hard transparent crystals, while graphite is dark, shiny, and can conduct electricity. This is all to do with how those particles are arranged.


Essential Questions for States of Matter

  1. What happens to the particles when we change from one state to another?
  2. Do particles change when they change state? Are the particles in ice the same as the particles in water?
  3. How is energy related to state and state change?

Other States of Matter Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Have students create a storyboard that imagines what the world would be like if there were no liquid state.
  2. Get students to create a timeline to show how atoms were discovered.
  3. Using a timeline storyboard, have your students show the state of different substances using temperature instead of time.

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•   (English) States of Matter   •   (Español) Estados de Materia   •   (Français) États de la Matière   •   (Deutsch) Aggregatzustände   •   (Italiana) Stati Della Materia   •   (Nederlands) Staten van Matter   •   (Português) Estados da Matéria   •   (עברית) ארצות הברית   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) حالات المادة   •   (हिन्दी) द्रव्य की अवस्थाएं   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Состояния Вещества   •   (Dansk) Stater i Sagen   •   (Svenska) Stater av Materia   •   (Suomi) Aineen Tilat   •   (Norsk) Tingenes Tilstand   •   (Türkçe) Maddenin Halleri   •   (Polski) Stany Materii   •   (Româna) Stări ale Materiei   •   (Ceština) Skupenstvích   •   (Slovenský) Stavy Hmoty   •   (Magyar) Halmazállapot   •   (Hrvatski) Države Materije   •   (български) Държави по Материя   •   (Lietuvos) Narių Reikalas   •   (Slovenščina) Države Snovi   •   (Latvijas) Agregātstāvoklis   •   (eesti) Olekud