Observable Properties VS Basic Characteristics

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Students will be able to identify actions that change observable properties but do not change the basic characteristics of materials.

Big Idea

Students will identify how actions can produce physical change to a material without changing its basic characteristics.


1 minutes

Warm Up

10 minutes

We will begin this lesson with a whole group discussion about observable properties and what they are. Students will recall information from the previous lesson, referencing using senses to determine an object's physical characteristics. I will inform students that although physical changes can occur to a material, that does not necessarily mean that the material changes. I will give an example of a white piece of printer paper. I will model coloring the page with a marker while expressing that although I have changed an observable property of the paper, it is still the same piece of paper. I will provide students with the opportunity to brainstorm and discuss how actions can produce physical changes to materials without changing the basic characteristics. 


25 minutes

I will display five connecting cubes. I will ask the students, "what are the basic properties of this object?" As students discuss the basic properties (shape, position, individual pieces), I will begin pulling the cubes apart, rearranging and connecting them back together. I will ask the students to think about what basic properties have changed now that they  have been reassembled. I will lead a discussion about which basic properties I did not change (weight, color, number of pieces). I will ask the students, "did I change the number of blocks? Are the blocks still made of plastic?" I will provide the opportunity for students to share their thinking. 

I will explain to the students that many actions that humans apply to objects only change some of it's observable properties like the size and shape of the object. They do not change the basic characteristics; which is what the object is made of. I will ask the students to identify actions that would affect or not affect the basic characteristics of materials.

Student groups will each receive a piece of clay, scissors, a plastic spoon, and a pencil. I will provide time for students to investigate  how actions can change observable properties, but not the basic characteristics. Students will record their findings on the Materials-Actions-Effects Resource.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

To conclude the lesson, time will be provided for pairs to share their ideas and explanations. Students will transition to the carpet for a final whole group discussion. We will discuss the tools, materials, or skills that were used to test their ideas. Students will also discuss why is it important to know the effects of certain actions on materials.