Phase Change Lab

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SWBAT complete a lab experiment that demonstrates 4 phases changes and the three states of matter.

Big Idea

Through a lab experiment, students will collect data and write a lab report, summarizing their findings.


5 minutes

Teacher Tip: This lesson is set up like a lab activity.  Students should practice basic lab safety, wearing goggles, exercising caution around the hot plate, etc. The purpose of this activity is for students to experience the phase changes first hand through ice and water.  This addresses MS-PS1-4 as students are explaining the effects of thermal energy increasing. Materials for this lab include the following per small group: one hot plate, one beaker of 3-4 ice cubes, thermometer, timer, safety goggles per each student. 

To start, the students answer the following prompt in their student lab sheet or in their notebooks: 

What is needed to change matter from one form to another? (Think about melting.)

At this point, they should be familiar with heat (or removal of heat) being the factor needed to change matter from one form to another. After 3-4 minutes, I will ask a few students to share their responses with the class, writing them on the SMARTBoard. 


5 minutes

Before beginning the lab, I ask students to think about the following in their small groups: 

If you wanted to do an experiment to show all 3 states of matter and how they change from one form to another, what could you do?

Brainstorm with your small group to come up with some ideas for your experiment.

Once students have come to a conclusion as a group, they write down their responses in the lab sheet. Students have said anything from- "melting ice and boiling it" to explaining a process to show each phase individually. 

Any response is valid here as long as students are engaged in the prompt and thinking about the possibilities.  


2 minutes

Now, I explain to the students that: 

You are going to complete a lab experiment demonstrating melting, evaporation and condensation. Follow the steps below to complete the lab report and the experiment.

I read the procedure in the elaborate section of the lab sheet along with the students, holding up the materials as we read them.  I explain to them the importance of safety during this lab and how once the thermometer is placed into the beaker on the hotplate, there is NO reason to touch anything other than the timer.  

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30 minutes

This is when the students are actually performing the lab. The information, procedure, data table and analysis questions (to be completed when data is finished being collected) can all be found in the student lab sheet. 

Students will place the beaker of ice on the hot plate (turned off at this point).  They will take an initial temperature by placing the thermometer into the beaker. 

They turn on the hot plate to max temperature and do not touch it for the remainder of the data collection. 

They will record temperature, observations and inferences about what's happening every 3 minutes on the data sheet. 

Once they have completed the data table, they will turn OFF the hot plate and answer the analysis questions either independently or with their small group peers. 


5 minutes

At the end of this lab, I have students write an official lab report by following the checklist below: 

Write a lab report to discuss your findings.

You will need the following things in your report:

  • Background information (what are the 3 states of matter? what are the 4 phase changes?)

  • Objective

  • Materials list

  • Your hypothesis

  • Summary of the procedure

  • Analysis

  • Conclusion paragraph (what did you learn while completing this lab?)

For students with writing difficulties, you can include the following Lab Report Template to help them with their writing organization and flow. This report is how I grade their lab activity and this lesson.