What's the Matter?

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Students will be able to identify the 3 states of matter through testing using the 5 senses.

Big Idea

Students are able to name the states of matter, but in this lesson, they will gather information on the properties of the states in order to identify them.


5 minutes

In order to center our learning for the day, we will begin the session with the question "How can we identify the 3 most common states of matter, consistently?"

At this point, I will ask students to discuss at their tables what states of matter they know of and what they think they know about each. 

This is simply to engage their minds and prepare them to investigate this topic. 

Mini Lesson

10 minutes

After assembling the students in a fishbowl formation at community area, I will place a tub containing 3 balloons. One of the balloons is filled with air, one with water, and one with frozen water (fill with water and freeze the night before). These balloons are also labeled A, B, and C.  Each tub for each group is the same. 

Next, I will ask a volunteer to join me in the fishbowl in order to model for the class how to move through the Matter Matters Template in order to record our observations and predictions. I instruct the students to move through the template in order, completing each column before beginning the next, using their senses.

Finally, I will show the students how to use a push pin to poke the balloons.  I will not do this, actually, but model for them how to hold the ends of the balloons and pick the balloon while it is still in the bin. 

Active Engagement

20 minutes

While the students investigate the balloons and discuss how to recored their observations, I will circulate and probe them to think more deeply about their predictions. I will be listening for vocabulary terms and descriptive words like solid, liquid, gas, weight, sound words, air bubbles, and even temperature descriptions. 

In this clip, the student group debates how one would tell if there is gas in the balloon.  They then move to describing the liquid.  As they discussed, I worked to focus their thinking so that they could identify ways to describe and record their observations. 

Sharing and Closing

5 minutes

During the close, I ask the students to share with the whole class their learning from the activity. In this clip, the students discussed the properties of a liquid and were beginning to define how this particular liquid, water, felt and smelled. 

 This student was working to describe how different states of matter "felt" or moved in their balloon. 

As these students shared, we were able to gather that liquids took the shape of their container, while solids held their shapes and gasses filled all space it was given.