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Grades 3-5


In this lesson, students are introduced to what constitutes matter. Through inquiry, hands-on activities, simulation and problem solving, students will increase their understanding of matter. Using mathematical computation students will use a formula to measure the volume of matter. Students will use standard and nonstandard tools to measure the mass of matter.
ITV Series
Science Alliance: Matter
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
Each class will need:
Each student or team of three students will need:
Pre-Viewing Activities
1. Pass around two paper bags. one with three golf balls and the other with three ping pong balls.
a. Ask the class what they think is in the bags.
b. Drop a golf ball into a transparent tub of water. Ask what happened to the ball? hold up the ping pong ball and ask class what will happen toe it when you drop it into the water. Let class respond. Drop the ping pong ball into the same tub of water. Discuss the difference between the golf ball and the ping pong ball.
c. Explain to the class that even though both the golf ball and the ping pong ball are the same size the mass of the golf ball is larger. We explain this by saying that the density of the golf ball is larger.
2. To create the mood for today's lesson START the video with the riddle, then STOP and allow the class time to respond. Next have the students think of an object in their bedroom or kitchen and describe this object on a piece of paper listing 4-5 properties. (Define properties)
a. The students then trade papers with descriptions on them with classmates and the classmates draw a picture of the described object.
b. Find out how many in the class were able to identify and correctly draw the item.
c. Discuss what made it easier to draw the item. (For example a more detailed description of the item's properties)

3. Tell students to place a book on their desks. Say, "without moving the book off of your desk, put another book in the exact same space."
a. Discuss with the class why they feel this is not possible.
Focus Viewing
To facilitate the students viewing as they tune into the video, it helps to have them focus on some specific information that will be forthcoming in the video. Instruct students to pay attention to what things are made of matter. At the conclusion of the video, the students will need to be prepared with a specific example of evaporation, melting, condensation and freezing.
Viewing Activities
1. START the video tape of "Matter," at the beginning where it asks the riddle and continue until it says, "Matter can be liquid like grape juice." PAUSE and ask the students to identify other matter which could be identified as a liquid. RESUME to where the tire with air is shown. PAUSE and ask the students to identify other matter which could be identified as a gas. CONTINUE the video to where it says, "you and me. PAUSE and ask what solids, liquids and gases are called. LISTEN to responses form the class.

2. CONTINUE to "and gas state" PAUSE and review the three states of matter with the class. (solid, liquid, and gas) RESUME until it says, "Can you measure matter?'' PAUSE and let the class respond. RESUME to where the lady asks, "How much mass do you have to add to make the sides balance again?" PAUSE and listen to the responses from the class.

3. CONTINUE until she says "we've shown you that matter in the liquid state has mass." STOP. Discuss with the class that the video has just shown how mass can be measured with a balance in all three different states. Ask, "What did they use to measure the mass of a solid?" (brick) "What did they use to measure the mass of a liquid?" (grape juice) "What did they use to measure the mass of a gas?" (air in a tire)

4. RESUME until they ask, "Can you figure out what my mass is?" PAUSE while the class responds to the question. CONTINUE until she says "solid state like Rex."

5. STOP and discuss the composition of the human body.
a. There are three physical states of matter in your body as well.
1. solids: bones and muscles
2. liquids: blood and digestive juices
3. gases: oxygen and carbon dioxide in lungs and blood

6. RESUME the video again until the question, "Is anything else the same about all matter?" PAUSE and let the class respond. CONTINUE until you hear "all matter takes up space." PAUSE and ask the class how they think it could be proven that all matter takes up space. Listen to class responses. RESUME until the lady asks, "What will happen if I pour more?" PAUSE and have students respond to the question.

7. RESUME until you hear, "proper scientific term for taking up space." PAUSE and ask the class if they know hat it is. (volume) Listen for responds. CONTINUE until you hear, "truly a giant in science." PAUSE and ask the class "what did Archimedes discover?" and then, "how did he discover it?" Let the class respond to both questions.

8. RESUME video until she says all matter has mass and all matter has volume. PAUSE and have the class repeat, "all matter has mass and all matter has volume."

9. CONTINUE until the question, "Can matter be changed from one state to another? PAUSE and let the class respond. CONTINUE until "and is still the same matter just in a different state." PAUSE and ask the class if ice is still the same matter in the solid state (ice) as in the liquid state (water). Listen to student responses.

10. RESUME video to where the video shows the writing, "from solid to liquid . . . melting." PAUSE and ask if there are other changes of state. CONTINUE until "what happened to the alcohol?" PAUSE and ask class what is evaporation? Listen to answers.

11. RESUME to where the video shows the writing "from gas to liquid . . . condensation." PAUSE and have the class repeat "condensation is when matter changes from a gas state to a liquid state."

12. CONTINUE to "how many example can you think of?" PAUSE and ask for responses. CONTINUE and listen to the questions until "many more things you'd like to learn about matter."

13. STOP the video.
Post-Viewing Activities
1. Remind the class that they have learned from the video what constitutes matter. Review with the class what makes a liquid, a solid, and a gas. Have the class share their examples of condensation, evaporation, melting, and freezing as instructed in Focus for Viewing.

2. Ask students what kinds of things are recycled. Discuss what happens to the state of matter during recycling.

3. Divide the class into groups of three:
a. Have each student measure the length of his/her desk using his/her arm from elbow to wrists.
1) Record each student's results.
b. Each student will then measure two/three different things in the classroom using his/her arms, hands, etc. as a tool for measurement.
1) Record each student's results.
c. Have each student remeasure all of the above items with a metric ruler and then compare these results for accuracy with the arm/hand measurements.
d. Discuss why the difference between the teammates measurements when using their arms/hands vs. the same measurements when a ruler was used.
e. Relate the above to why we use standard tools to measure matter.

4. Review with the students that all matter has volume. Teach students the formula for finding volume. (height x width x depth = volume) Have the students stay with their groups of three and find the volume of some items in the classroom (using a ruler for measurement). Some things they might measure could be: books, boxes, cupboards, file cabinets, pencil boxes, etc.

a. Discuss the findings of the students about the volume of the different items.

5. Give each student a piece of clay and have them shape it into approximately one cm on each side.

a. students then fill a 50 mL graduated cylinder to 25 mL mark with water.
b. put clay cube in the water
c. record the water level on paper
d. each student then changes the shape of clay
e. drop newly-shaped clay in 25 mL of water
f. record the water level on paper
g. discuss results with the class and why
Action Plan
This lesson will help the students gain an awareness of how to measure matter. They will also know what matter is and become more aware of the composition of matter in the things around them. They will understand scientifically what is happening when ice melts, or water freezes, etc. as matter changes from the different states. Students will know how to measure matter and then be able to share this knowledge and understanding with others as they come in contact with the different forms of matter.

Have students do more assignments with the metric system using their math books.


Have the class fold their papers into three sections and have them label the sections as: solid, liquid and gas. Have them draw a picture in each box to demonstrate these different states of matter.


Read "Sugaring Time," by Kathryn Lasky to learn about the properties of maple sap used to make maple syrup.

Read "Ice Cream," written by William Jaspersohn demonstrating how matter is involved in the ice cream making process.

Social Studies

Research Archimedes to find out more about measuring volume.

Research Roy Plunkett to learn what he knows about matter.

Research George Washington Carver to find out what he discovered about how matter interacts with other matter helping him invent over 300 uses for the peanut.

Find out if your community recycles and how your family can help.

Master Teacher: Nona Edwards

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