Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What's the MATTER? An Interdisciplinary Investigation about the States and Traits of Matter

Third grade students delved into another Physical Science discovery this Spring by exploring the traits and states of matter.

To kick off this unit, students began by observing three balloons.  Each balloon was filled with a substance that represented one of the three states of matter.

Three balloons:  The balloon on the left (pink) is filled with a gas, the balloon
in the middle (orange) is filled with a liquid, and the balloon on the right (white)
is filled with a solid.

Students observed each of the balloons and noted the traits each balloon had.  Students noted that the "white balloon" was not really a balloon at all.  I explained to the students that what had happened to that balloon was that while the balloon was in the freezer changing the state of matter of the water inside from a liquid to a solid, the balloon actually ruptured.  I explained that this happened because when a liquid freezes, it expands, or gets bigger, and that the balloon ruptured because the solid inside had gotten too big for the latex of the balloon to contain it.  I also explained to them that sometimes, some materials do not expand as easily when they are cold and that latex is one of them.  This is why the balloon would not get as big in the cold of the freezer as it would in the warmth of the classroom.  I told the students that I covered the solid that had taken the form of the balloon with the white so that they could have at least the visual of a balloon.

By discussing what we knew (prior knowledge) about each state of matter, students predicted what would happen when each balloon was popped and what shape the matter inside each balloon would take once the balloon was popped.  

Students predicted that they would not be able to see the gas.  Students predicted that the liquid would go everywhere inside the tray, and students predicted that they solid would stay the same.

Here is what happened:

The gas was invisible and could not be seen.  Students noted
that it went everywhere in the room.

The water filled the tray.  It took on shape of the tray
 instead of the shape of the balloon.

The solid stayed the same shape even when the balloon was

 After reading more about the states of matter students worked in P.R.I.D.E. groups to categorize which state a predetermined set of matter cards would be classified into.

Jayda, Lavon and Khadijah partner to categorize matter into the three states.

The next day, students created living models of the three states of matter so that we could demonstrate what happened to the molecules within each state or matter.  To do this, clear plastic trash bags and balloons were used.

Karissa, Marion, and Marcus pose as states of matter molecules.  Can you guess
which one is a solid, liquid and a gas?

Once the students were ready in their "costumes", they came into the classroom to model their molecule costumes.  Each student took a turn jumping around so that their classmates could see how the molecules (balloons) in their matter moved about.  Based on this observation, the observers in the class decided which molecule was a solid, which was a gas, and which was a liquid and then justified their opinion based on what they had learned thus far in this unit.

Marion represented a Liquid molecule.  His molecules moved about but stayed
close together.  Marcus represented gas.  His atoms moved about freely and did
not need to touch each other.  Karissa represented a solid.  Her molecules did not
move at all.

After this demonstration, students worked independently to complete an interactive notebook entry about the traits of matter.  A solid has a definite volume and a definite shape.  A liquid has a definite volume but its shape changes depending on the shape of the container.  A gas has no definite shape and no definite volume.

Darren displays his science sort interactive notebook
entry which explains the traits of the states of matter.

Next, we began to explore the gas state of matter a little bit more in depth.  We did this because it is such a difficult concept for students to understand because it is something we cannot see.  Students conducted to experiments specifically tailored to observing gas.

The first was an experiment called "Matter is a'Poppin'".  During this experiment, we used three different types of soda (Sprite, Fanta Orange, and Coke), balloons, and Pop Rocks candy.

The materials needed for the Matter is a'Poppin' science experiment.

Each student was given a clip board and a data sheet to record the steps of the scientific process for this experiment.  Students recorded the materials, and the procedure.  The procedure for this experiment, Pop Rocks would be placed inside the balloons.  Then, once the caps of the sodas were removed,  the balloons would be placed over the openings of each bottle. Finally, the Pop Rocks would be emptied from the balloons into the sodas.  Students would observe for a reaction to occur.

Pop Rocks have been placed in the balloons.  They are shaken down
into the "bulb" part of the balloon.  The opening of the balloon is placed over the
mouth of each bottle.  
Students then made hypotheses on their data sheets about what they predicted what would happen during the experiment.  Once they had their hypotheses recorded, we were ready to begin the experiment...

Pop Rocks have been shaken down into the sodas.  Students are observing

Almost immediately, students notice the balloons expanding (getting bigger).  Students are seeing fizzing.  We discuss what that fizzing is and note that it is occurring because of a gas.  We are all wondering why some of the the balloons are getting bigger than others.

Now, we don't see any more fizz in the bottles.  We notice that the Fanta and Coke
balloons got much bigger than the Sprite.  We wonder why.

After the experiment is over, we have a discussion about possible reasons why the Fanta and Coke balloons got bigger than the Sprite balloon.  One reason we noted is that the Fanta bottle had more liquid volume than the Sprite and Coke bottles (20 oz bottle compared to 16 oz bottles).  Could it be that with more liquid there could have been more gas produced?  We also noted that the Fanta and the Coke both were colored beverages but the Sprite was a clear beverage.  Could it be that the Sprite produces less gas because it contains less chemicals to begin with?  We were left with many questions.

Following this experiment, students wrote lab reports to convey their learning.  Here are some pictures of their finished reports.

Marcus, RayVon, TaMya, and Kaylin's lab reports.

Da'Marieon's written lab report.

Da'Marieon's written lab report.

The second science experiment we did was a Gas Rocket.  To do this we needed a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke and a roll of Mentos.  The entire package of Mentos was dropped into the 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke as third graders stood around to observe the reaction...the following took place:

The Mentos created a reaction inside the bottle that caused
gas to be formed.  The gas molecules moved out of their
container through the opening taking soda with them (fizz).

To conclude our study of the states of matter, we made root beer floats. 

Ymmmmm!  What a great way to study
the states of matter!
 Each component of the root beer float represented one of the states of matter.  The ice cream was a solid.  The root beer was a liquid.  But where was the gas?  You guessed it!  When the root beer was added to the ice cream, we saw the gas bubbles of the fizzing pop!

Here are three third graders reaction to having a root beer float as part of science class!

D'Aijah...I think she likes it...

Ra;Jhay...I think she likes it...

Looks like it's unanimous!  Abubakr likes it, too!

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