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States of matter can be more than just your average solids, liquids and gases!

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When water turns into snow, is it still water? The answer is yes! Our world is filled with solids, liquids, gases and even other matter that can go from one state of matter to another without changing its chemical substance. In this lesson, students explore these different states of matter and their interactions.

LIST OF ACTIVITIES

Oobleck
Polyox
Candles
Chocolate Lollipops
Crystal Trees and Gardens
Solid, Liquid, Gas!
Frozen Laundry Race
The Swirls Around Us
Frozen Balloons
Ice Cube Towers
You’re In Hot Water
Incredible Can Crush
Dry Ice Sublimation
Deposition Exploration
Exploring States of Matter

Objectives

  • Differentiate between the three main states of matter.
  • Describe different properties of matter.
  • Describe the properties of a solid, a liquid, and a gas.
  • Describe the properties of a solid and a liquid.
  • Describe the properties of gases and liquids.
  • Understand the transitions between states of matter.
  • Understand how matter changes from one state to another and what affects the change.
  • Describe the processes of evaporation and condensation.
  • Describe the processes of melting and solidification.
  • Describe the processes of freezing and melting.
  • Explain cohesion.
  • Investigate the properties of a non-Newtonian fluid.
  • Describe the general process of crystal formation.

Materials

  • see individual activities for materials.

Background

A “state of matter” is a way to describe the behaviour of atoms and molecules in a substance.

There are three common states of matter:

  1. Solids – relatively rigid, definite volume and shape. In a solid, the atoms and molecules are attached to each other. They vibrate in place but don’t move around.
  2. Liquids – definite volume but able to change shape by flowing. In a liquid, the atoms and molecules are loosely bonded. They move around but stay close together.
  3. Gases – no definite volume or shape. The atoms and molecules move freely and spread apart from one another.

Plasma is sometimes referred to as a fourth state of matter. While it’s similar to a gas the electrons are free in a cloud rather than attached to individual atoms. This means that a plasma has very different properties from those of an ordinary gas. Plasmas occur naturally in flames, lightning and auroras.

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