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Lesson Title: States of Matter
May 11, 2012

Unit: Physical Science - Properties of Matter

Grade Levels: 4-6

Connection To Curriculum: Science

Teacher Prep Time: 2 hours

Lesson Time Needed: 4 hours

Complexity Moderate

Keywords: density, mass, atoms, molecules, heat, spaceflight, weight, solutions, rockets, pressure, gas


Activity 1: Atoms and Molecules in Motion
Floor space for student simulation masking tape
Copies of student text: "Atoms and Molecules in Motion: States of Matter"
Student copies of: "Diagramming Atoms and Molecules in Motion" handout
An overhead transparency of: "Diagramming Atoms and Molecules in Motion" handout
Activity 2: Liquid Rainbow
Four large containers (e.g., pitchers or milk jugs)
Food coloring (four colors)
Transparent drinking straws
Pickling salt (preferred)
Five vials or test tubes per student group (four for solutions and one for waste)
Activity 3: Potato Float
Three tall beakers
Objects with varying densities
Graduated cylinders
Activity 4: 3-2-1 Pop
Heavy paper
Plastic 35-mm film canister
Student sheets
Cellophane tape
Effervescing antacid tablet
Paper towels
Eye protection

This lesson explores the states of matter and their properties.

Students will:
• Simulate the movement of atoms and molecules in solids, liquids and gases.
• Demonstrate the properties of liquids including density and buoyancy.
• Investigate how the density of a solid behaves in varying densities of liquids.
• Construct a rocket powered by pressurized gas created from a chemical reaction between a solid and a liquid.

First page of States of Matter

Lesson Guide
States of Matter Lesson
[111KB PDF file]



Lesson Activities and Sequence

  1. Heat As The Agent of Change: Atoms and Molecules in Motion
    Students study heat and its effects on spaceflight. (Module from Genesis mission education)
    Keywords: matter, heat, spaceflight

  2. Liquid Rainbow
    Students use salt and food colorings to generate different density water and to create a density rainbow.
    Keywords: density, matter, atoms, molecules, mass

  3. Potato Float
    Students will float an object in varying density solutions.
    Keywords: matter, mass, weight, density, solutions

  4. 3-2-1 Pop!
    Students construct a rocket powered by the pressure generated from an effervescing antacid tablet.
    Keywords: matter, rockets, pressure, gas

National Standards:

National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Science and Technology
• Abilities of technological design.
• Understanding science and technology.

Physical Science
• Position and movement of objects.
• Properties and changes in properties of matter.
• Transfer of energy.


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