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SWBAT identify the properties of solid matter.

Big Idea

Through hands-on exploration and an online simulation, students will develop their own idea of matter and its molecules.


5 minutes

Teacher Tip: This lesson addresses NGSS MS-PS1-1, as students are creating paper models of the structure of solids.  You will need 3 examples of solid objects for each small group of students.  I use objects like wooden blocks, paperclips, rocks, marbles, etc. I place them in a basket and have them ready to go for the second part of the lesson. 

To begin, the students will read and write a written response to the following prompt.  I always have the prompt displayed on the SMART board, but it is in their student notes sheet as well. 

Provide 3 examples of solids and explain how you know they are solid.

Students will respond with: ice, rock, table, chair- because they're hard or because they don't move. 

After 3-4 minutes of individual work time, I will ask 2-3 kids to share their responses with the class. I write their responses on the SMART board for the other students to copy, use, add to their notes sheet. 


20 minutes

This next part of the lesson involves students working in their small groups to make observations about 3 samples of solids. The objects in baskets are what I put on each of their tables to observe. In order to help guide them in the process of making observations, I provide the following structure for them to answer in their notes sheet: 

Observe the 3 examples of solids on your table and follow the procedure below.

  1. Describe the 3 solid objects.

  1. What happens to them when you try and pour them or change their shape?

  1. Do you think there is something you could do to them to change their shape?

This is small group work and thus, students should be engaging in discourse about the observations being made.  

In order to ensure this, I will walk around, monitoring the groups and encouraging discussion by pointing out different aspects, "How could you change the shape of this? What happens if you pour it like a liquid? Is there a way you can break it?"


5 minutes

Now, the students are asked to individually reflect upon the differences they've observed in liquids and solids.  They observed liquids in the previous day's lesson and are familiar with the properties of liquids.  By responding to the following question in their notes sheet, students have a chance to think about the contrast between liquids and solids and can practice using their new vocabulary to do so. 

Explain the differences you observed between liquid behavior and solid behavior. 

After 3-4 minutes, 1-2 students will share their responses with the class. I will write them on the SMART board for others to reference. See the EXPLAIN sample for an idea of what to expect. 


10 minutes

For the next section, I display an online interactive simulation using the SMARTBoard for the kids to observe and analyze.  The simulation is excellent at allowing them to see the particles and the motion and also the change that occurs to both when heat is added or taken away.  

Students respond to the following in their notes sheet while I move through the questions and the demo: 

Use the online simulation to help you answer the questions below.

  1. Describe the motion of the molecules in solid for…

    1. Neon:

    2. Argon:

    3. Oxygen:

    4. Water:

  2. What happens to the molecules when you add heat?

  1. What happens to the molecules when you add cold (take away heat)?



5 minutes

The last section is a quick wrap-up for students to assess their knowledge of solids and review liquids in comparison. In their notes sheet, they will answer the question below and sketch the particles using circles to represent the particles. 

Explain how liquid molecules are different from solid particles. Sketch examples of both to show the particles and their motion.