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States of Matter

Lesson Plans 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 the states of matter is key to being able to describe the universe around us.


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States of Matter Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Properties of the Different States of Matter

Properties of States of Matter
Properties of States of Matter

Example

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Have your students show their understanding of states of matter using this T-Chart activity. Carry out this activity at the start of learning about states of matter as a baseline, or at the end of learning to see how much they have learned.

Students are going to create a particle model drawing using shapes. This is a great opportunity to discuss with your students what happens when you add thermal energy to or remove thermal energy from a system of particles. Students could relate this to the kinetic energy of the particles, the motion of the particles, and the temperature of the system.



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 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 to Account", 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.


T-Chart 3 Rows
T-Chart 3 Rows

Example

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Vocabulary for the States of Matter

State of Matter Vocabulary
State of Matter Vocabulary

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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 to Account", 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.


    1. 5 Word Vocabulary Template
      5 Word Vocabulary Template

      Example

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States of Matter Discussion Storyboard

Discussion Storyboard - MS - Solid, Liquid and Gas
Discussion Storyboard - MS - Solid, Liquid and Gas

Example

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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. Students might support their position by creating visuals, including text and images, on Storyboard That. These visuals can easily be exported as PowerPoint slides. After students have prepared their argument, have your students discuss their ideas. This discussion can be carried out in a range of different formats. Students could discuss in pairs, small groups, or even in a teacher-led, whole class setting. It is important to agree on a list of discussion rules with students before they start so everybody gets a chance to participate. Students will also be able to practice adapting their speech to a formal debating context and can demonstrate their grasp of formal English.

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 a storyboard to describe why a student is incorrect, and then "teach" the concept.
  3. 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 to Account", 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. You will use your created storyboard to engage in discussion with your peers.


  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.


Discussion Storyboard - Blank
Discussion Storyboard - Blank

Example

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The Story of a Water Particle

Water Particle
Water Particle

Example

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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!

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 to Account", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

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 talk about the changes in thermal energy and how this affects the kinetic energy of the particle.

Explain what is happening in the real world and what is happening at the particle level. If you want, 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.


T-Charts - Blank
T-Charts - Blank

Example

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Changes in the States of Matter

States of Matter Changes
States of Matter Changes

Example

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In this activity, students will demonstrate their knowledge of key words and concepts. 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.

An increase in thermal energy increases the average kinetic energy of the particles in a system. This can either increase the temperature of the system or can cause the state to change. The change will be from a solid to a liquid or a liquid to a gas. Conversely, a decrease in thermal energy will decrease the average kinetic energy of the system. This change will cause a change in state from a gas to a liquid or a liquid to a solid.

Use this activity as a baseline at the start of a topic to formatively assess 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. The opposite of sublimation is known as desublimation deposition.

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


Student Instructions

Identify the particle arrangement of the different states and names of the different state changes.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Use shapes 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.


Changing States of Matter
Changing States of Matter

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States of 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 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.

Matter comes in three states: solid, liquid or gas. These lesson plans use 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. It is important the students are able to define a pure substance as a substance that is made of one type of atom or molecule.

The addition of thermal energy to a system of particles increases the average kinetic energy. A decrease in kinetic energy can reduce the temperature of a system or change the state of a system from a gas to a liquid or a liquid to a solid. 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 kinetic energy. As the particles get more thermal energy (often by being heated), they vibrate more. There becomes a point when the particles have sufficient energy 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, allowing 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 spread out. They fly around colliding with each other and the sides of their containers. Gases can be compressed 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 collision of particles and other material exerts a force known as pressure.

Pressure is affected by the by various factors, such as the temperature of the system, the number of particles, and the volume of the container. The pressure of the system can affect what state the matter is. With a high pressure, more thermal energy is needed for particles to change from a liquid phase to a gas phase. With a low pressure the opposite is true; less thermal energy is needed for particles to change from a liquid phase to a gas phase.

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 go into a new 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. Create a storyboard that imagines what the world would be like if there were no liquid state.
  2. Create a timeline to show how atoms were discovered.
  3. Show the state of different substances using temperature instead of time on a timeline.

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