States of Matter

Barbara Pawela May School
512 S. Lavergne
Chicago IL 60644


Grades 4-6

The students will be able to:
A. Define matter.
B. Identify the states of matter.
C. Tell about the properties of each state of matter.
D. Demonstrate an understanding of the difference between a physical and a
chemical change.
E. Do a performance assessment activity to demonstrate mastery.

Materials needed:

a variety of solids Ziplock plastic bags hot plate
a variety of liquids clear plastic glasses 2 beakers
spray perfume 2 Erlanmeyer flasks electric fan or
2Tbs. powdered Sulfur 2 L Erlanmeyer flask hair dryer
2Tbs. iron filings 1 L beaker pre 1982 penny
20 ml nitric acid bent glass tubing one- hole rubber
baking soda round balloons stopper
Iodine gas tube food coloring vinegar
acetate fabric ice ping pong balls
50 ml acetone 4 cans gas model container
1/2 tsp. salt watch glass
crucible clear container
Bromine gas tube

Activity I:
1. Display different solids and liquids.
2. Put a variety of small solid objects in Ziplock bags, and have a member of
each group pick-up the bags for each student in the group.
3. Discuss the definition of "matter".
4. Ask the students to take out, look at, and touch the objects. Ask if they
can see the objects? Introduce the word "visible".
5. Together discuss the other properties. Tell the students to try to put
their pen through their desk. Ask if they could do so easily? Tell them
to do the same thing with some of the other objects. Together discuss
that one cannot go through solids easily. External force has to be
6. Ask the students if the objects keep their shape easily? Discuss and
conclude that they do if no force is applied to them.

Activity II:
1. Take ice cubes or crushed ice between your hands. Hold your hands up and
ask what is happening.
2. Together discuss the change of phase from a solid to a liquid.
3. Pass out a clear plastic glass half-filled with water. Point out the other
liquids on the table. Ask what other liquids they know.
4. Tell the students to try to put their pen in the water. Discuss and
conclude that objects can go through a liquid easily.
5. Have the students pour the water out of the glass into the Ziplock bag.
Discuss what happened and come to the conclusion that a liquid has a
definite volume, but not a definite shape -- instead it takes the shape of
its container.
6. Put about a liter of water into a clear container. Squirt 4-6 drops blue
or green food coloring into the water. Observe what happens. Discuss
7. Put about 50 ml water into an Erlenmeyer flask, and heat on the hot plate.
While the water is heating go on to the next activity.

Activity III:
1. Ask the students what is in front of their nose. Tell them to take an
index card or piece of paper and fan themselves. Discuss and conclude that
the breeze is made by moving air. Have the students blow-up their balloons
and then let the balloons deflate. Ask if they could see the air or the
substance that was blown into the balloon. Introduce and discuss terms
"gas" and "invisible".
2. Spray some perfume. Let it disperse throughout the room.
3. While the perfume is dispersing, take the Erlenmeyer flask, in which the
water should be boiling for at least a full minute, off of the heating unit
and immediately place the balloon opening over the flask's mouth.
4. Let the water balloon cool (the balloon will be sucked inside out into the
flask). If the flask is carefully heated again the balloon will expand and
come out of the flask. Discuss what was happening.
5. Discuss the aroma in the room. Ask how the aroma was dispersed.

Activity IV: (Optional) Teacher demonstration.
1. Have 1/2 tsp. iodine crystals in a glass stopper covered narrow-necked flask.
Purple gas will form in the flask. (This is an Iodine gas tube.)
2. Have 20 ml liquid bromine in a glass stopper covered narrow-necked flask. A
yellow-orange gas will be present in the flask. (Bromine gas tubes)
3. Into a 2L Erlenmeyer flask put a pre-1982 copper penny. Add about 30 ml
nitric acid. Cover with a one-hole rubber stopper to which a bent glass
tube is attached. Put the other end of the bent glass tube into a 1L
beaker containing 750 ml water. We will return to this later.

Activity V:
1. Give each group a can containing ice. Let water condense on the outside of
the cans and then ask if the cans are leaking. Discuss from where did the
water come. Together continue discussing the change of phase from a gas to
a liquid.
2. State that matter can undergo other types of changes besides the change of
phase. Have the students tear their paper or index cards. Have them mold
the clay into different shapes. Discuss the fact that, though a change has
occurred, the basic material is the same substance.
3. Cut an apple into pieces. Again point out that cutting an apple was a
physical change and the substance of the apple was the same. Place some of
the apple pieces into a crucible. Add a little water, and place the
crucible on the hot plate to cook. Leave some of the raw apple pieces
exposed to the air.
4. Put 1/2 tsp. salt into 50 ml water. Stir until the salt dissolves. Take
about 10-20 ml of the solution and put on a watch glass. Place on the hot
5. Take 1 tsp. powdered sulfur and mix with it about 1/2 tsp. iron filings. Mix
the sulfur and iron. Place a magnet over the mixture. The iron filings
will be pulled out by the magnet. Discuss and come to the conclusion that
the mixing had been a physical change.
6. Check on the apples and on the evaporating salt solution. The apple should
have cooked some. Discuss how the apple has changed. Conclude that the
apple is different from the raw apple and will not change back. Look at the
watch glass after the water has evaporated. Discuss the sediment and what
7. Burn part of the index card or paper. Discuss that the paper has undergone
a chemical change. The actual substance has changed to something else and
burned paper cannot be returned to the original substance.
8. Cut a small piece of acetate fabric. Ask what kind of a change this was.
Put the piece of fabric into 50 ml acetone in a beaker or similar jar. The
fabric will dissolve. Together discuss and conclude that this a chemical
change. Repeat the process dissolving styrofoam in acetone.
9. Heat the 1 tsp. powdered sulfur mixed with the 1/2 tsp. iron filings. Observe
what happens. A gas is given off. A new substance has formed. Allow to
cool. Test for magnetic attraction. Discuss and conclude that a chemical
change occurred.
10. Give each group a candle. Light the candles. Observe and discuss what is
happening. Conclude that the burning candle is an example of both a
physical and chemical change. Some of the wax melts into a liquid and
later cools down and solidifies back into its original substance. Some of
the melted wax was heated enough to change into a gas which burned.

Activity VI:
1. Look at the 2L Erlenmeyer flask set up in Activity IV. #3. The solid
copper penny, added to liquid nitric acid, formed a brown gas. The nitric
acid dissolved the copper into its ions. The solution in the flask turns
blue showing the presence of copper ions.
4HNO3 + Cu " Cu(NO3)2 + 2NO2 + 2H2O
2. Use a gas model with ping pong balls and fan or hair dryer to demonstrate
how the atoms are arranged in a solid, a liquid, and a gas.


1. Part of the assessment is the student's responses during the discussions.
2. The final part of the assessment is as follows:
You have been hired by an oil company in a desert country in the
Mid-East to provide drinking water from sea water. Money is no object.
You are to purchase materials and design a method to provide fresh
water. Explain what equipment and materials you would use. Draw a
diagram and explain your procedure.

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