Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures
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Marcea Anderson Thornton Township High School
150th & Broadway Ave.
Harvey, Ill. 60426
To distinguish and describe the three types of matter: elements, compounds,
Helium balloon, beaker of salt, taco salad appetizer, petri dishes, nuts, bolts,
washers, overhead projector.
Before class begins, set out a beaker of salt, tie a helium balloon to the
desk and bring out a taco salad with chips. When the students get to class have
them wash their hands. Ask the students why you would have these three items
out on the desk and ask them to come up and sample the taco salad.
Instruct the students to form their mini-groups and discuss the three
items. Each group should make a list comparing and contrasting their three
items. Discuss their lists. Hopefully, one group will determine that the
helium balloon is an element, the salt is a compound, and the taco salad is a
mixture. Define the three types of matter on the board or overhead.
To show the difference between each type of matter use nuts, bolts and
washers in plastic petri dishes. Set these up in advance for use with an
For elements use the following:
Dish A 8 washers
B 8 bolts
C 8 Nuts
For compounds use the following:
Dish D combine 1 nut with 1 bolt making several sets
E combine 2 nuts with 1 bolt making several sets
F combine 1 bolt, 2 washers and 2 nuts making several sets
For mixtures use the following :
Dish G 2 washers, 2 bolts, 2 compound D and 1 compound F
H 5 washers, 6 nuts and 4 bolts
I 4 compound D, 3 compound E and 5 compound F
Show each dish and explain why it is like its type of matter. Use these to
review the concept of each type of matter. Have the students form their groups
again. This time, ask them to make an analogy of the concept of elements,
compounds, and mixtures from their daily life.