Standards Database Logo
Home | Browse | Search | Purpose | History | Process | Acknowledgment| Reference



McREL Standards Activity

What’s the Matter with You?

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to describe the basic properties and behaviors of solids, liquids, and gases.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
 Standard 8.Understands the structure and properties of matter
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 1. Knows that matter has different states (i.e., solid, liquid, gas) and that each state has distinct physical properties; some common materials such as water can be changed from one state to another by heating or cooling
Student Product:None
Material & Resources:2 sealed baggies of water (one frozen, one at room temperature)
hot pot
Teacher's Note:Be prepared for student inquiries about substances that do not behave in the same manner as water.
Part I:
Begin by asking to students to describe water.  What is water like? How does water behave?  Pass the baggie of liquid water around the classroom.  Ask the students to describe the water (for example,it can move and flow, it takes the shape of its container).  Tell the students that what they are describing is a liquid.  

Ask if water is ever different.  If necessary, remind the students that ice is also water, but it is in a solid form.  Pass the baggie of frozen water around the classroom.  Ask them to describe it (for example, it is hard, it keeps its shape).  Explain that liquids and solids are two states of matter.

Tell the students there is yet another form that water can take.  Pour the water from the baggie into a hot pot and turn on high.  Ask the students to predict what will happen as the water heats up.  Allow them to carefully observe the steam rising from the boiling water.  Explain that the water is changing from a liquid state to a gas state.  Gas is the third state of matter.

Part II:
Review the characteristics of the three states of matter.

Explain to the students that they are now going to act out the three states of matter.  Use the masking tape to mark off an enclosed space on the floor (make sure it is large enough to fit all of the students inside).

Have the students all stand inside of the tape.  Tell them to stand still and rigid.  Explain that this is how a solid acts--it is rigid and the particles that make up the substance do not move.

Tell the students that it is now getting hotter, and the particles are now starting to move.  Direct the students to move in a flowing way past each other, but make sure not to move outside of the taped area (remind them that liquids take the shape of their container).

Now tell the students that it is really getting hot, and the particles are starting to bounce around erratically.  Direct the students to jump around and move in and out of the taped area.  They are now representing a gas.