Lesson 13

Introduction to the Particle Theory of Matter: Day One of Plaid Pete's Particles

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SWBAT describe the spacing and movement of particles that differentiate solids, liquids, and gases.

Big Idea

How are particles different in solids, liquids, and gases? Using Plaid Pete and Seth's research notes and cereal rings students construct particle models of solids, liquids, and gases.

Setting Up the Investigation

Connection to The Next Generation Science Standards

In this investigation, students explore the  Disciplinary Core Idea of Structure and Properties of Matter -  that matter of any type can be subdivided into particles that are too small to see, but even then the matter still exists and can be detected by other means. (5-PS1-A); and use the Crosscutting Concept of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity  - natural objects exist from the very small to the immensely large (5-PS1-1), and Energy and Matter - energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects (5-PS3-1).

Please Note:  The Lexile Level for What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Lab Scenario Sheet Lesson 13 is 870 (5th Grade Range is 740 - 1010).

The Preparation Time for This Investigation is approximately 10 minutes.

Materials Needed:

One copy for each student of What's The Matter Plaid Pete?- Lab Scenario Lesson 13

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete and Seth's Particle Theory of Matter Research Notes

One copy for each student of What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Lab Sheet Lesson 13

One sandwich bag of ring cereal (small oat type) for each pair of students

Focus & Motivation

10 minutes

Introduce the Scenario

I gather my scientists together and tell them that Plaid Pete and Seth have another investigation into matter that they would like us to conduct.  I hand out copies of What's The Matter Plaid Pete?- Lab Scenario Lesson 13 to each student.  I don't hand out the cereal just yet, because this scenario has some science content that I want to discuss before students get distracted by materials.  Also, today they will be working in partners, rather than in teams.

Students read the scenario in their teams using their usual Reader's Theater routine.  When they are finished, I point out the following sentence in the second to last paragraph of the scenario:  

"The way the particles (atoms) are combined, or arranged, is what makes solids, liquids, and gases different from each other."

I ask my students to highlight that sentence.  I explain to students that this is called "the particle theory of matter."  I tell them that today and tomorrow, they will be working to understand this extremely important theory in science and then I share the learning objective and success criteria:

Share Lesson Objective & Success Criteria

Note:  Consistent with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, I am now including a language objective with each lesson.  These objectives were derived from the Washington State ELP Standards Frameworks that are correlated with the CCSS and the NGSS.

I share the lesson objectives and success criteria:

Learning Objective:  I can create a particle model for solids, liquids, and gases, and explain how this arrangement affects their properties.

Language Objective:  I can identify a simple main idea from informational text.  [ELP.4-5.1]

Success Criteria:  I can correctly complete my lab sheet, revising as necessary for 100% accuracy.

Guided Exploration

20 minutes

Introduce the Activity

I hand out a copy of Plaid Pete and Seth's Particle Theory of Matter Research Notes and What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Lab Sheet Lesson 13 to each student.  I say to students, "Here are the notes that Plaid Pete and Seth collected about the particle theory of matter.  Your first task is to read through their notes so that you have an understanding of what the research says about how particles are arranged in the three states or forms of matter that we are exploring today.  Then, once you have an understanding of the kind of model you will create with your cereal, (I hold up the plastic sandwich bag in which I have placed oat cereal rings), raise your hand and I will bring it to you.  

Teams Read & Make a Plan

I circulate between the teams, listening as they read the information together.  I had originally intended to have students work in pairs, but my teams are working so well together, that when they requested that they work in teams, I agreed.  When they indicate they are ready to begin building the models, I hand them their baggie of cereal.  I have some fairly impulsive students this year, so I want this check point.  With my more impulsive students, I ask, "Tell me a bit about your plan for how you will build these models."  I won't ask them to tell me how they do each one, I just want to hear that each one will be different from the other.  When I don't hear that, I re-direct them to go back and read carefully.

Constructing Models

As I move between the teams, I am noticing that some students are struggling, particularly when they come to the question about how the arrangement of the particles affects the property of that state of matter.  For those that are on the edge of understanding, I ask probing questions, such as:  "Look at the way you have arranged the particles for this solid.  Now look at the research notes.  Is there any information there that would explain why these particles might remain in this arrangement and allow solids to keep their shape?"  I ask similar questions for the other states, directing students to use both the models they have created, and the information provided (or to use the information to create a model that matches!), to answer the questions.  

In this conversation from Video Clip 1, I assist this student in navigating the text.  Even with the support of her team, I know she will need one on one intervention to extract the meaning from the text that she needs to understand this complex material.  

In this conversation from Video Clip 2, this student has extracted an understanding of the properties of solids, but needs assistance in constructing a model that matches.


25 minutes

New Information

I ask my scientists to remember back to the lesson where we learned about scientific modeling.  I remind them that scientists are always looking for new information to add to their knowledge, and assist them in revising their models to make them more functional.  I tell that we are going to finish watching the video that we began in our last lesson, as it has some additional information that will help to assist us in revising the models we have created today.  I begin the video at the 9 minute mark, where we previously left off:

 Revising Our Models

I say to my students, "Wow!  It looks like Plaid Pete and Seth left some very important information about particle theory out of their notes.  What was it?"  I then have them turn and talk to their partner.

I call on partners, looking for the answer that a change of state requires adding or removing heat, and that the addition or removal of heat affects the arrangement of the particles because it changes their movement.  I explain this idea in terms of an energy transfer:  that what is happening is that energy in the form of heat, is either being transferred to the particles, or that they are transferring their energy.  I explain that transferring heat to the particles makes them move faster, and their movement also creates more heat energy.  I draw a basic energy transfer diagram on the whiteboard to demonstrate these simple energy transfers.

After this discussion, I tell students, "We really should add this information about energy transfer in the form of heat to Plaid Pete and Seth's notes."  We work together, with me at the document camera and students at their desks - revising the research notes by adding the information.

I then tell students - "You have made a physical particle model using cereal.  I would now like you to construct particle models of each of the three states of matter on your lab sheet by drawing the circles.  Please label your models, and show where the energy is being transferred.  You can use arrows to show this.  If you need to work with your partner to revise the answers to your questions at the bottom of your lab sheet, please do so."  As partners are working, I circulate noting students who are still struggling with this very difficult concept and redirecting them to go back to the physical model, as needed, to assist them in understanding the concepts presented.

I will be reviewing and reinforcing this concept of the transfer of energy at the particle level when we talk about state changes in Lesson 15.  My students who are still struggling with their understanding will have an additional hands-on opportunity to work with these concepts.

Reflection & Closure

10 minutes

Science Notebooks

At the end of the period, I ask students to fold their lab sheet hamburger style, and glue it into the designated page of the science notebooks.  I collect them and take them home to assess which students are still struggling with this concept.  Since these are interactive Science Notebooks, I will be making comments and asking questions of my scientists.  In this Student Example I can see that although this student has an understanding of the arrangement of particles in different forms of matter, there is some confusion regarding the movement of particles.  This student does not see "vibration" as movement, and therefore does not see that particles in solids also have kinetic energy.  This is a misconception that I will want to clear up during tomorrow's investigation.

Tomorrow on Day Two, students who need it will have an additional opportunity to solidify their understanding, and I want to specifically target those students.  They will also have an opportunity to go back and revise the models and lab sheets they created today, in order to meet the success criteria.

I call my students together and tell them they have done amazing work today!  I explain that tomorrow, we will be working to further refine our understanding of this particle theory of matter.  I ask them to turn and tell their partner what most amazed them about what they learned today.  I ask for a few students to share out.