Investigation Sequence


Solid, Liquid, Gas

Written by:

Erica Osten and Katie Martin                 Date


Focus Questions

What is matter? What is the difference between to three states of matter?


Content: Earth, Physical, & Life

Matter is anything that takes up space and has mass. Everything consists of matter.

Cross cutting concepts


Science Practice


Personal, Social, Technology, Nature of Science, History


Background information

Each state of matter has its own unique characteristics and can be readily distinguished. Solid has a definite shape. Liquid take the shape of the container. Gases expand to fit container. Compound is basic unit of molecule with atoms in fixed chemical proportion. Mixture is a combination of two or more ingredients, not in a fixed proportion, with each part retaining its identity. additionalinfo

Activity Sequence

1) What are the three states of matter?
2) Solids, liquids, mixture, and solutions.
3) Changing of matter
4) Changing of gases into other states
5) Melting of solids
6) Boiling of liquids

Activity Descriptions

Introductory activity

What's that smell?

  1. Usa a bottle of cologne or perfume and pour some into a plate at the front of the room.
  2. Ask. What is the state of matter in the plate? Liquid
  3. Tell students to raise their hand when they can smell it.
  4. Ask. What is the state of matter that travels to your nose so you can smell the ... ? gas
  5. Discuss.
  6. Show tudents a solid room air freshner.
  7. Ask. What is the state of matter of the air freshner? solid
  8. Ask. When you smell it? What is the state of matter that traveled to your nose? gas

Activity 1
States of matter
Chalkboards, chalk, collection of materials (block of wood, scroll of paper, water, milk, oxygen, steam)
1) What are the states of matter?
2) Briefly describe the three states of matter, solids, liquids, and gases.
3) Have the students classify each of the materials by its state.
4) Add other items to each classification heading until you are sure the students have learned differences between the states of matter.
5) Ask the students to give examples of the states of matter other than the items given.

Activity 2
Solids, liquids, mixture, and solutions
Glass jar, bits of paper, paper clips, spoon, water, marbles, tacks, sand, salt, sugar, copper pennies, magnifying glass, periodic table
1) Ask what is a mixture and solution?
2) Look at the sand with a magnifying glass. Ask do all the particles look the same?
3) Do the same with the sugar. Ask do all the particles look the same?
4) Put the paper clips, bits of paper, marbles, and tacks into a half-filled glass of water.
5) Stir vigorously. Ask did the appearance change?
6) Ask are the marbles still a solid? Are the paper clips still a solid? Is the water still a liquid?
7) Follow the same procedure as above, but add only sugar to the water.
8) Is the sugar still a solid? Is the water still a liquid?
9) Ask the students what happened with the sugar? (Students may have the misconception that the sugar turned into a liquid. They may not realize that the sugar has just dissolved and is still in the form of a solid, but only smaller. Don’t be concerned at this time you may need to do a follow up sequence on solutions.)
10) Was a solution created?

Activity 3
Changing of matter
Heat source, sauce pan, small pieces of ice, thermometer, upper range over 212 degrees
Burner warning. If you feel the students can’t do the activity due to hot materials, teacher can do as a demo with students at a safe distance.
1) Put the pieces of ice in the saucepan.
2) Record the temperature reading of the ice in the sauce pan
3) Heat the ice slowly
4) Ask what do you think will happen to the ice?
5) Check the temperature at regular intervals until all the ice is melted.
6) Record the temperatures when all the ice has been changed to water.
7) Continue to apply heat.
8) Ask what is going to happen to the ice that melted and turned into water?
9) Check the temperature at regular interval until changed into steam.
10) Record this temperature

Activity 4
Changing of gas into other states
Water, crushed ice, table salt, paper towels, glass jar, test tube, heat source, sauce pan, pan of glass, gloves to handle hot materials.
1) Fill a glass jar with crushed ice.
2) Mix a generous amount of salt with the ice
3) Ask what will happen with the crushed ice
4) Place a water-filled test tube upright in the ice
5) Wrap paper towel around the glass jar.
Procedure 2:
6) Partly fill a sauce pan with water
7) Apply heat till the water boils
8) Wearing gloves carefully hold the pane of glass over the boiling water.
9) Ask what is the purpose of holding the pane of glass above the boiling water.
10) Collect the water that runs off into a cup
11) When the water has cooled taste it. Does it taste pure?

Activity 5
Melting of solids
Water glasses, double boiler with hot water, source of heat, ice cubes, thermometer, butter, wax, sugar, other substances to be tested, and gloves Some substance won’t need burner.
1) Put the ice into a glass and record the temperature as ice melts
2) Pour the water out
3) Have the students wear gloves as a safety precaution as some substance may splatter when heating.
4) Put the butter in the double boiler or frying pan
5) Heat until the butter melts
6) Have the students make estimates about at the temperature the butter will melt.
7) Have a student note the temperature at which the butter melts.
8) Continue this process with the other substances
9) Make a graph of table showing the melting point of each of the substances
10) How do you find melting point?

Activity 6
Boiling of liquids.
Large glass jar or beakers, hot plate (do not use open flame), water, test tube, rubbing alcohol, thermometer, gloves
1) Use gloves as safety procedure.
2) Boil some water
3) Record temperature of water when it boils.
4) Pour water to the depth of several inches in glass jar of beaker
5) Put some alcohol into a test tube and then place in the glass jar.
6) Place these two containers over heat. (Be sure the alcohol vapor is not exposed to open flame)
7) Record the temperature at which the alcohol boils.

Follow up activity - demonstration - mysterious coin

Use a 2 liter plastic bottle with a small mouth that a coin can be put onto the mouth so it will completly cover the opening. Ahead of time chill the bottle by leaving it in a refrigerator until ready to perform this demonstration. Place the bottle on a table in the room with the coin covering the opening. As the air inside the bottle warms it should expand and move the coin. When the coin moves ask students to explain what moved the coin. Ghost. What is inside the bottle? Could air move a coin? Could the air expand enough to push the coin?


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes