What's the Matter?
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Earline Muhammad Louis Wirth Academy of International Studies
4959 South Blackstone
Chicago IL 60615
To Understand the Chemical Properties of Matter
Two Small Baby Food Jars
Strike Match. Observe what happens to the match as it burns.
Fill one-half of one jar with steel wool.
Add enough vinegar to cover the steel wool.
Write IRON ACETATE on the side of the jar.
Allow the jar to stand undisturbed for five days. (A chemical reaction between
the vinegar (acetic acid) and steel wool (iron) that produces iron acetate.
Pour one tablespoon of liquid containing iron acetate into the second jar. Pour
one tablespoon of household ammonia (ammonium acetate) and stir. Note and
Chemical reactions do not create or destroy matter, but only rearrange the
combinations of atoms in matter. For example, wood in the match stick (which
contains carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen), plus oxygen in the air combine in a
chemical reaction to form water (which contains oxygen and hydrogen), carbon,
and carbon dioxide (which contains carbon and oxygen). Chemical reactions
often give off energy (for example, the chemical reaction of the match
burning gives off heat and light).
In the case of the green blob, iron plus vinegar produces iron acetate. Iron
produces iron acetate. Iron acetate plus "ammonia" (ammonium hydroxide)
produces ammonium acetate and iron hydroxide (the green blob)
In biological systems the same principles apply. Living things contain the
same atoms as the non-living part of the earth, but the "chemical reactions
of life" rearrange the atoms in the non-living organisms into new combinations
(the chemicals of life).
As a result of focusing on the chemical properties of matter, and the above
activities, students will be able to answer the following questions:
What changes occurred when the match was burned?
What happened when the iron in the steel wool combined with the vinegar?
What happened when ammonium hydroxide and iron acetate combined?
In our experiment, The Green Blob, was a new material produced? Why or Why not?
Students will understand the chemical properties of matter and its relationship
to living and non-living things.