Lesson 14

Introduction to the Particle Theory of Matter: Day Two of Plaid Pete's Particles

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SWBAT draw a simple model that reflects a basic understanding of the Particle Theory of Matter

Big Idea

How does the arrangement of particles in different states of matter affect their properties? Students work in pairs to further refine their understanding of the particle theory of matter by investigating the compression of a solid, a liquid, and a gas.

Setting Up the Investigation

This is Day Two of a Two Day Lesson.  Click here for Introduction to the Atomic Theory of Matter:  Day One of Plaid Pete's Particles.

On Day One of this investigation, students first worked with physical models to develop an understanding of the particle theory of matter.  

On this second day, students compress different states of matter using a syringe, to develop a deeper understanding of particle arrangement in matter.

Connection to The Next Generation Science Standards

In this investigation, students explore the  Disciplinary Core Idea of Structure and Properties of Matter -  that matter of any type can be subdivided into particles that are too small to see, but even then the matter still exists and can be detected by other means. (5-PS1-A); and use the Crosscutting Concept of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity  - natural objects exist from the very small to the immensely large (5-PS1-1), and Energy and Matter - energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects (5-PS3-1).

Please Note:  The Lexile Level for What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Lab Scenario Sheet Lesson 13 is 870 (5th Grade Range is 740 - 1010).

The Preparation Time for This Investigation is approximately 10 minutes.

Materials Needed:

One copy for each student of What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Lab Sheet Lesson 14

One syringe with mL markings for each pair of students

Approximately 30 nickels per pair of students

1 cup of water per pair of students

1 piece of tubing per pair of students

1 clamp (to clamp tubing) per pair of students

In this Materials picture is an example of the syringe, clamp, and tubing I used.  You need to use flexible tubing because you have to attach it to the syringe.  A straw will not work.

petroleum jelly - lubricate tip of syringes before handing out to students so tubing is easily removed

1 materials tub for each pair of students

1 set of What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Word Wall Cards Lesson 14

1 paper copy for each student of What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Word Wall Cards Lesson 14

1 copy for each student of What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Vocabulary Practice Lesson 14

Focus & Motivation

10 minutes

Review Learning Objective & Success Criteria

I gather my scientists together in our meeting area and remind them about the learning objective and success criteria that were posted yesterday:

Note:  Consistent with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, I am now includinga language objective with each lesson.  These objectives were derived from the Washington State ELP Standards Frameworks that are correlated with the CCSS and the NGSS.

Learning Objective:  I can create a particle model for solids, liquids, and gases, and explain how this arrangement affects their properties.

Language Objective:  I can identify a simple main idea from informational text.  [ELP.4-5.1]

Success Criteria:  I can correctly complete my lab sheet, revising as necessary for 100% accuracy.

Review Content From Yesterday

I tell my scientists that today, we will again be working on this objective and understanding the particle theory of matter.  I point to a chart on which I have written the following:

The Particle Theory of Matter

        • All matter is made of particles
        • The state of matter is determined by how the particles are arranged.
        • The particles are in constant motion
        • The particles are attracted towards each other
        • Particles at a higher temperature move faster than particles at a lower temperature.


I say, "Yesterday you learned that the difference between solids, liquids, and gases, is how these particles are arranged.  Turn and tell the person next to you what you learned about how the particles are arranged in solids"  I listen as pairs discuss.  I am now specifically listening for an incorrect answer.  Students are able to correctly state the arrangement of particles in gases.  However, they have a more difficult time with the particles in solids and liquids.  It is difficult for them to grasp the idea that the particles are still close together in a liquid, but not as close as in a solid.  In this video clip one student describes her understanding.  She has some prior knowledge about changes in states of matter, and she is connecting that with what she has learned about the "forces" that hold the particles together.  

I know from looking at students' notebooks that the particle models were all fairly correct. However, I also know that they worked in teams and talked each other through the process. I cross my fingers and hope this continues!

I tell my students that we will be working on another investigation that will help us better understand these ideas.  I send my students back to their teams, and pass out their materials tubs.

Team Activity

25 minutes

Introduce the Activity

I ask students to each take out a What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Lab Sheet Lesson 14 from the materials tub.  We read through the directions, ensuring that they understand the steps of the investigation.  I demonstrate for them how to use the tubing and the clamp to seal the syringe.  

I explain that it is extremely important that they complete the prediction section, including their reason before they do the activity associated with that step.  I also explain that I want them to make one prediction at a time, and then do the subsequent activity, before making the next prediction.  I ask, "Why am I asking you to do this?"  I want my students to recognize that I have the expectation that they will continue to refine their predictions by using the information they are acquiring at each step of the investigation.

Begin the Investigation

I ask my pairs to make a plan for how they will conduct this investigation - who will be doing which task.  Here is an example of a team plan  When they have their plan in place, then they can begin with the first step.  I have a team discussion with this team, to ensure they are ready to proceed.  I know if all team members aren't in agreement, there will be squabbling and I didn't wear my striped shirt today!  

As they begin making their first prediction, I circulate among the pairs.  It isn't long before I have to stop my scientists and ask questions such as, "What did you learn yesterday, that might help you make this prediction?  What forms of matter are the materials you are working with?  What do you know about particle theory that could help you here?  Does your prediction match what you have learned about the way particles are arranged and how they behave in this particular form of matter?"

I am also prompting my scientists to be as accurate as possible with their models, reminding them that they should be so accurate, that someone else could come along behind them, conduct the same activity, and get exactly the same results.  I am pleased to see that students are taking inordinate care with them, as in this student example.  I can also see that students are grasping the idea of the arrangement of particles in different forms of matter.

When all teams have completed the three steps, I tell my students that before we have a discussion about what we have learned, I want to make sure that they have the appropriate vocabulary.  I ask them to get out their Science Notebooks and get ready to learn the language of Science.

Vocabulary Instruction

10 minutes

Introduce Vocabulary

Consistent with the 5E Model of Instruction - The majority of vocabulary instruction in my classroom occurs during the "Explain" or instructional stage.  This ensures that students have the experiential activities that will allow them to connect new vocabulary terms to conceptual understanding.

I present the words from the What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Word Wall Cards Lesson 14 using the same instructional routine that I have previously used with my students.  

  1. Say the word to students.
  2. Ask students to repeat the word at least 5 times.  For example, I will say, "Say it to the window.  Say it to my hand.  Say it to the door.  Say it to the ceiling."
  3. I say the word in context.  For example, I will say, " The position the plants were placed in was one of the controlled variables in the video."  
  4. I will then randomly call on a student to use the word in a sentence, giving successive prompts to assist them, if needed.

Science Notebooks

I also use the same Science Notebook routine as has been used in previous lessons:

After introducing the words, I again demonstrate for students how to make a three column table with rows for each of the eight vocabulary words.  I model for them in my own Science Notebook how to write the word in the first box, a non-linguistic (e.g. picture) representation of the word in the second box, and work with the class to generate an example sentence for the first word in the third box.  Students cut out their copies of the cards and place in the envelope, which they glue on the page behind their table.  They will finish sentences for the remaining words either for homework, or for seat-work later.  A completed example will look like this Example 1  

Examining student notebooks is a good place to look for student misconceptions.  In the Student example above, this student has demonstrated a misconception that the particles in solids have no spaces between them.  This will provide a conferencing opportunity with this student.  

I ask students to think a few moments about what they have learned and get ready for a class discussion.

Reflection & Closure

20 minutes

Class Discussion

I refer to our posted learning objectives, and ask pairs to look at the lab sheet they just completed.  I query my students:

What state or form of matter are the nickels (then water, then air)?  

How do you know?  

How are the particles in that form of matter arranged?  

What happens to the particles in that form of matter when you try to compress them?  

Did your prediction match what actually happened?

I then review our chart - The Particle Theory of Matter.

I ask my students, "Do we have evidence for this particle theory?  What is the evidence?"  In this Video Clip, one student states:  "You can't compress solids because the particles are too close together.  And you can only do liquids a little bit because they're closer.  And you can push gases really far to get them closer . . . because they want to run freely and they do it really fast."  I am pleased!  This student has addressed a number of items from the Particle Theory of Matter Chart:  that matter is made of particles, that the particles are arranged differently in different forms of matter, and that the particles in gases behave differently than the particles in other forms of matter.  

I point to the chart on which I have now written the Big Idea for this half of the unit:

Everything in the universe is made of matter, which is constructed of particles that are too small to be seen; the ways in which these particles interact are what give matter its structure and properties.

I remind students that this is the Big Idea that we are working towards.  I am looking for as many students as I can to express these concepts in their own words, and to share them with their peers.  I have particularly focused on those students whose lab sheets from yesterday revealed that they had not yet grasped these concepts.  

I then tell my students that they have this opportunity to revise yesterday's lab sheet, if they need to.  I provide extra copies and send them back to their desks.  Students who do not need to revise finish their vocabulary.