Mystery Powders (Part 2/2)

2 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT explore and identify unknown samples of matter by their physical and chemical properties.

Big Idea

What is an indicator? Drawing on their knowledge of physical and chemical properties, students investigate and use indicators to identify unknown mystery powders.


35 minutes


Part 2 of the Mystery Powders Inquiry is an opportunity for students to use their knowledge and continue to explore. Students make connections and apply their understanding to the world around them. Students continue their work on the Mystery Powders Inquiry. A KEY is included as a resource.

I ask investigative questions such as:

  • What other mystery powders could be tested?
  • Choose one mystery powder to investigate. Research how you could test this mystery powder.
  • How could this knowledge be applied in our daily lives?
  • Develop a way to test your mystery powder.


As students search for answers, they will (MS-PS1-2)analyze and interpret data on the properties of a substance before and after the substance interacts to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred; understand the physical properties of each mystery powder by making observations (5-PS1-3)(SP#1) ask questions to determine mystery powders;(SP#3) carry out an investigation(SP#4) analyze and interpret the data regarding mystery powders;(SP#8) obtain, evaluate, and communicate this information with their peers and record their findings on their lab sheet; and finally (RST.6-8.9) compare and contrast the information gained from reading about physical/chemical properties with that gained from the experiment.

Students Testing Mystery Powder


5 minutes


This is an opportunity for students to explain what they have learned, figure out what it means, and communicate their thinking. I want students to develop an explanation to make sense of the inquiry. I encourage students to incorporate domain specific vocabulary such as: physical property, chemical property, physical change, chemical change, indicator, and evidence

Students can explain their thinking in multiple ways like: a data table, drawings, charts, graphs. I also ask students to use evidence to back-up their thinking as they write a well constructed conclusion. I want students to use the sentence frame: I learned that . . .because . . . When students can explain their thinking, they are more likely to engage in meaningful discussions with their peers. Sentence frames are a strategy that improves academic success.

At this point in the discovery, I ask students to share their ideas with a peer and discuss for one (1) minute. Then I want students to write (for 1-2 minutes) their conclusion with evidence.