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Solid, Liquid, or Gas?

What’s the matter? Solid, liquid, or gaseous? Students shape up their physics knowledge with a Model Magic® mobile that really matters.

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
    Grade 3
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Invite students to discover solids, liquids, and gases. Everything is matter, in either a solid, liquid, or gaseous state. All matter occupies space, has mass, and consists of atoms. Solids have hard surfaces and differ in how their molecules are arranged. Liquids are smooth and wet, flow, and take the shape of their container. Gases move, don’t stick together, and have no shape. Provide classroom resources for students to investigate independently or in small groups to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the states of matter.
    2. Challenge students to find examples of each of the states of matter. Working in collaborative groups, brainstorm common examples of the three states of matter: metal, rock, and ice are solids; raindrops, honey, and milk are liquids; steam, hot air, and compressed air are gases. As groups discover examples, ask them to create a written list of each set (solids, liquids, gases). Assist students with writing as needed.
    3. Student groups design a mobile of the three states of matter using colored Crayola Model Magic. Firmly press a paperclip into the top of each. Air-dry overnight.
    4. With Crayola Scissors, cut a cardboard roll into one long and three short sections. Cut construction paper to cover the rolls. Attach it with Crayola School Glue. Air-dry the rolls.
    5. Label the three short sections—solid, liquid, gaseous—with a Crayola Washable Marker. Label the longer roll, too. Include information about matter if you wish. Tie your models to the correct short cardboard rolls with string or yarn. Tie the three sections to the longer section. Students hang mobiles in the classroom for others to see.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

    LA: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to grade level topic or subject area.

    LA: Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).

    LA: Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

    MATH: Solve problems involving measurement and estimation of intervals of time, liquid volumes, and masses of objects.

    SCI: Plan and carry out investigations to test the idea that warming some materials causes them to change from solid to liquid and cooling causes them to change from liquid to solid.

    SCI: Provide evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Solids, Liquids, And Gases by Ginger Garrett; What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld; What's the Matter in Mr. Whiskers' Room? by Michael Elsohn Ross

    Students work in small groups to observe the three states of matter in their school environment. Students tour the building, identify each state of matter and making lists to document what they have found. For example, in the cafeteria they can see milk (liquid), utensils (solid), and steam rising from the hot water in the sink (gas). Upon returning to the classroom, student groups consolidate their findings into a set of class lists. Discuss what was observed.

    Students stage the melting of a (solid) ice cube. Using a video camera, students will tape the melting of an ice cube. Note both the temperature in the room and the time when the cube was placed in a clear jar. Turn on the video. Check back in regular intervals to see how much of the cube has melted. Note the time when the cube is gone and only liquid remains. If time permits, continue to videotape, noting the time when no liquid is present. Review the videotape, speeding up the viewing if needed, and discuss. How might the results be altered if the room temperature was changed? What other factors could alter the results?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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