DOES MATTER REALLY MATTER?
MASTER TEACHER Gladys Tilley
This lesson provides learners with an understanding that matter
is every-where and is all around us. This lesson uses the hands-on
approach, learner interactions with teacher and each other, real world, concrete
experiences and a video to teach about matter and its usages. In using the
hands-on approach learners will experience changing matter from a liquid to a
solid, experiment with matter as a solid and a gas, use a solid and a liquid to
make a gas and distinguish between two look-alike types of matter.
Bill Nye The Science Guy: Phases of Matter
Learners will be able to:
*define matter as anything that takes up space *identify
the three phases of matter - solid, liquid,
*determine what is and is not matter
*demonstrate matter usage
Story: The Blue Balloon by Mick Inkpen
Water in a glass
yellow food coloring (optional)
chart and marker or chalkboard and chalk
small objects (for 1/2 the class) marbles, toothpicks, craft
safety pins, paper clips, etc.
balloons (for 1/2 the class)
Rotations (4 learners per rotation works well) A.
Liquid to Solid to Liquid (Matter can change)
Heavy whipping cream -1 pint per 3 learners
Salt shaker with salt
small jars with tops - 1 per learner
crackers - 1 per learner
5 oz. paper cups - 1 per learner
plastic knives and spoons - 1 each per learner
B. Balloon Friends (Matter as a solid and gas)
foot/shoe pattern (trace around learner's feet/shoes as he/she
with feet together)
poster paper, tag or other durable paper for foot/shoe patterns
balloons (1 per learner)
C. Is it solid? Is it liquid? Is it both?
4 measuring cups
resealable plastic bags
D. Solid + Liquid = Gas
plastic soda bottles
4 measuring spoons
4 portion cups
2 measuring cups marked at 1/4
E. They look the same. Are they? (Chemical
(Teacher directed and demonstrated!!!!)
containers for salt (mark salt on bottom)
containers for sugar (mark sugar on bottom)
aluminum foil or test tubes
tongs or clothes pins
string - 1 piece about 8 inches long per rotation group
matter - anything that takes up space
phases - forms that matter takes (solids, liquids, gases)
solid - matter that is most difficult to change shape ( a book,
a building, a car, a sweater, etc.)
liquid - matter that can change its shape to fit the container
it is in (water, milk, juice, etc.)
gas - a form of matter that can expand to take on the shape of
its container but is not a liquid (air, steam, vapor, etc.)
chemical reaction - mixing two or more chemicals together and
making something new
heat - a degree of warmth; hot; pure energy
energy - the capacity to do work
Divide class in half - 1/2 on one side of carpet and the other
1/2 on the other side of carpet area. Give each learner on one side of the
carpet a small object (toothpicks, marbles, paper clips, safety pins, craft
sticks, etc.) Give the other half nothing.
Say, "Today, in our science lesson, we are going to
learn about matter. I would like for everyone to hold out your hands.
If I gave you something, hold it in your hand. Who thinks you are holding
matter?" (Everyone with an object will probably raise his/her hand or
say, "I am.") Tell the ones holding objects to hold their hands at
their sides for a while. Ask the other half, "Are you holding
anything that can be called matter? (Ans. Learners will probably say
"No.") Say, "Let's see if you are holding matter.
Take your hand and fan your face. What do you feel? (Ans.
"Air.") Ask, "Can you see it?" (Ans.
"No.") Ask, "Do you think air takes up space?"
(Ans. Some may say 'yes' and some may say 'no.') Say,
"Let us prove whether or not air takes up space." Give each
learner holding 'nothing' a balloon. Say, "Blow it up and hold it so that
no air escapes." Teacher does the same as this group. When all have
blown up their balloons, (some may need help getting started) ask,
"Is there something in your balloons? If so, what?" (Ans.
"Air.") Ask, "Is it taking up space?" (Ans.
"Yes.") Ask, "How can you tell?" (Ans.
"The balloon got bigger.) Say, "You are correct. Let
the air out of your balloons so that you can feel it on your face."
When this is done, ask, "Did you see the air?" (Ans.
"No.") Ask, "Did you feel the air?"
(Ans. "Yes.") Ask, "Did it take up space?"
(Ans. "Yes.") Say, " Please, put your balloons
away." When this is done, continue, saying, "When you fanned
your face and felt the air, was that air taking up space?"
(Ans. "Yes.") Say, "Everyone holding objects and not
holding objects, hold out your hands again. What is in them?"
(Ans. Learners holding objects will name their objects, the others will
say "air.") Ask, "So your objects and air take up
space?" (Ans. "Yes.") Say, "Thank you.
Hands down. You have done a terrific job of helping us all discover
that matter is anything that takes up space. Please listen and repeat
after me. Matter is anything that takes up space." (Learners
repeat.) Compliment learners on their participation again as you take up
the small objects and balloons. Say, "Those who had the small objects
will experiment with balloons during rotation time. Say, "Now
that we know what matter is, I would like to tell you that matter comes in three
phases. Two you have already used in our experiment - solids, the small
objects and balloons, and - gases (air, blowing into the balloons). The
third phase of matter is called 'liquid'. (Show the glass of water.)
Say, "Water is a liquid. A liquid takes the shape of whatever
it is in." Put the funnel inside a balloon, pour some of the water
into the balloon. When finished, remove the funnel and tie off the
balloon. Ask, "Is the water still in the shape of the glass?"
(Ans. "No.") Ask, "What shape did it take?"
(Ans. "The shape of the balloon.) Say, "You are correct.
Let us name the three phases of matter." Point to a representation of
each as you name them. "Please repeat after me. Solids."
(Learners repeat.) Say, "Liquids." (Learners repeat.)
Say, "Gases." (Learners repeat.) Ask,
"Who can tell me what matter is?" (Ans. "Anything
that takes up space.") Give a sticker for the answer. Ask,
"Who can name one phase of matter?" (This question is asked
three times - one for each phase and a sticker given as reward for each phase -
solid, liquid, gas.)
FOCUS FOR VIEWING
To give the learners a specific responsibility for viewing, say,
"Now that we have experimented some and discovered a little about matter,
let us watch Bill Nye The Science Guy and Phases of Matter so that we may
further identify matter and watch for changes of matter.
Begin the video Phases of Matter when Bill Nye is lying on the
ground asking, "Ever wonder what the universe is made of?" Pause
video after Bill Nye shakes bottle and says "gas." Ask,
"What is the one thing Bill Nye uses to demonstrate the phases of
matter?" (Ans. "Soda pop.") Say, "Name one phase
of matter and tell how Bill Nye demonstrated it." Note to teacher:
Use this statement three times in order to allow more learners to participate.
(Ans. "Bill Nye used the bottle to show matter as a solid. Bill
Nye used the soda pop inside the bottle to show matter as a liquid. Bill
Nye shook the soda inside the bottle to make it foam up when he took the top off
to show a gas. Praise learners for their answers. Resume video.
Pause video when Bill Nye replaces the gasoline hose.
Ask, "Is a car matter?" (Ans. "Yes.") Ask,
"What phase of matter is a car?" (Ans. "A
solid.") Ask, "What fuel does a car use?" (Ans.
"Gasoline.") Ask, "What phase of matter is gasoline when it
goes into a car?" (Ans. "A liquid.") Ask,
"Does the car use the gasoline as a liquid?" (Ans.
"No.") Ask, "What happens to the liquid gasoline?"
(Ans. It changes from a liquid to a gas or vapor." Ask,
"On what does a car run - a liquid or a gas?" (Ans.
"A gas.) Ask, "Are all three phases of matter present when using
a car?" (Ans. "Yes.") Ask,
"How?" (Ans. "The car is the solid." "Gasoline
going into the car is a liquid." "Once inside the car the
gasoline changes into a gas so that the car can run." Praise learners for
their answers. Resume video.
Pause video when Martin says, "They vaporized."
Ask, "What is required to change a solid to a liquid to a gas?" (Ans.
"Energy.") Depending upon your learners maturity you may wish to
define energy if this is a first time usage. Ask, "What did Machaela
and Martin do to show changes from a solid to a liquid to a gas?"
(Ans. "They took a large block of ice from the freezer and put it
into a skillet." "The ice melted and became water."
The water cooked out of the skillet and became water vapor or steam.")
Ask, "What was the solid?" (Ans. "The ice.")
Ask, " What was the liquid?" (Ans. "When the ice
melted and became water.") Ask, "What was the gas?"
(Ans. "When the water was cooking out of the skillet and we saw the
steam.") Praise the learners again for their answers and reward all
Depending upon the maturity level of your learners, you may
elect to end the video now and discuss the segments shown. Rewind the
video and tell learners that they are going to watch the video again without
sound and see how many phases and uses of matter they can name. Start
video again when Bill Nye is lying on the grass and stop video when Michaela and
Martin have melted the ice.
Have learners name matter uses and phases seen. You may
wish to write on chart or chalkboard the matter phases and uses that are named.
At the end of this part of the lesson, you may wish to give your learners a
round of applause for their excellent participation.
Say, "We have learned that matter is anything that
takes up space. We have learned that matter has three phases - solid,
liquid, gas. For just a few moments, let us see if we can think of some
things that are not matter. I will name some things. You will tell
me if it is or is not matter." Name things such as water hose, shoes,
gasoline, gas, balloon, pencil, headache, beach ball, love, socks, hunger,
oranges, stomach ache, etc. Have learners tell why each is/is not matter
to ascertain if they understand the difference.
Say, "Now that we have learned some more about
matter, it is time for you to have some fun as you explore matter on your own.
During our rotations you will use a liquid to make a solid; experiment with air
in a balloon to create a friend; use two liquids to create a liquid, or maybe it
is a solid; use a solid and a liquid to create a gas; and, watch a chemical
reaction to tell one kind of matter from another.
A. Liquid to Solid + Liquid
Materials: (Consult materials list.)
1. Learners fill small jars 1/4 to 1/2 full of
heavy whipping cream
2. Secure tops on jars. (Teacher helps.)
3. Shake jars continuously until no liquid can
4. Do not stop. Liquid will be heard again.
5. Shake at least 10-15 times or more until
liquid is heard again.
6. Open jar.
7. Discuss what is observed and pour liquid
into large bowl.
8. Solid may be spooned into small paper cup
9. Salt and/or use food coloring if needed.
10. Spread on crackers.
12. Learners discuss what they made and how
they made it.
B. Balloon Friends (Matter as solid and gas.)
Materials: (Consult materials list.)
Read and discuss The Blue Balloon by Mick Inkpen. Learners
construct balloon friends using solids and gas.
1. Learners use markers, crayons or both to
decorate foot/shoe pattern.
2. Cut out pattern.
3. Use hole punch to punch a hole near the
place where the heels come together.
4. Blow up balloon and tie off. (May need
5. Push tied end of balloon through hole.
6. Learners may wish to use markers to draw
features on the balloon.
7. Voila!! A new friend.
C. Is it a solid? Is it a liquid? Is it
Materials: (Consult materials list.)
1. Learners measure 1/4 cup starch in starch
cup and 1/4 cup glue in glue cup.
2. Pour both into plastic cup.
3. Stir until well mixed.
4. Pour into hand.
5. Try molding the substance. Does it hold?
Lay on a paper towel.
Does it hold its shape? What happens
when it is picked up? Is it a solid? Is it a
liquid? Can it be both? (Should be an interesting
discussion. As long as the substance is held, it appears
to be a solid. When it is laid
down, it tends to spread out in different
6. Put in resealable bag for learners to take
D. Solid + Liquid = Gas
Materials: (Consult materials list.)
1. Put funnel into balloon.
2. Measure 2 teaspoons baking soda and put
3. Remove funnel and shake soda down all the
way into the balloon.
4. Pour 1/4 cup vinegar into measuring cup
and pour into soda bottle.
5. Very carefully, put the balloon opening
over the top of the bottle so that no baking
soda gets into the bottle.
6. Hold up balloon end and allow soda to fall
7. Watch the chemical reaction. What
8. Feel the outside of the balloon. How does
it feel? (Ans. "Warm.") Ask, " Why?" (Ans.
"The gas (matter) enlarged the balloon.")
Note: The chemical reaction between the
soda and vinegar produced heat, which is a form of
E. They look the same. Are they?
Materials: (Consult materials list.)
1. Have learners look at containers of salt and
sugar. (No touching.)
2. Learners describe what they see. Are the
crystals alike or different?
3. Let them look at the crystals using
magnifying glasses. Are they the same?
Note: They are about the same color. But the sugar
crystals are bigger than the salt crystals. Sugar crystals appear jagged.
Salt crystals are square.
4. Since we know the items, learners may
taste and describe the tastes.
5. Ask, "How do you think they will react to
being heated? (Accept all answers.)
6. Use two small aluminum dishes. Put 1/4
teaspoon of sugar in one dish and 1/4
teaspoon salt in the other dish. (The same if you
are using test tubes.)
7. Light the candle.
8. Using tongs or clothespins, hold dish or test
tube of sugar over the candle flame. Tell
learners to watch closely to see what
happens. (Hold over flame until sugar
changes to a liquid. You may add a piece of string and
watch as the sugar "walks up" the string and
hardens. Hang string to dry. This
is how rock candy is made.)
9. Set sugar dish aside. Hold salt dish over
candle flame. After a while, ask, "Is it
changing?" (Ans. "No.") Ask, "Why
not?" (See note for answer.)
Note: At a particular temperature some chemicals turn into
liquids, gases, burn or just get hot.
10. Ask, "What can we say about sugar when
it is heated?" (Ans. "It starts to turn brown
and melts together.") Ask, "What can we say about
salt when it is heated?" (Ans. "It does
1. Learners visit the local Science and History Museum.
Discuss matter with museum personnel and experience more hands-on
activities experimenting with matter.
2. Contact local Middle School and High School Science
departments to set up field trips to their campuses for learners to observe
older students doing experiments using matter and explaining the
experiments to the younger students.
3. Visit the local library with parents or older
siblings and relatives to do research on one of the three phases of matter
and report to the class. This report may also contain matter as having
weight and defining matter as anything that takes up space and has weight.
4. Visit the local weather station and have the
meteorologist tell about and demonstrate the following: how weather
predictions are made, how much air is in the area in which you live (high
and low pressure), what is used to measure high and low pressure (a barometer),
humidity (the water/lack of water in the air), temperature ( how warm the air
is) and show the different weather conditions on a weather map. Have the
meteorologist answer questions about weather.
5. Visit the local Science and History Museum to learn
about steam engines and how they have been and are made.
Find out about electrolysis and do an experiment involving
electrolysis. Since electrolysis is the process of using electricity to
break water down into two different parts, this should only be done with an
Materials for an electrolysis experiment may include the
following: 2 test tubes, 1 - 9 volt battery, 2 pieces of insulated wire ( each
piece 1 foot long), 1 deep rectangular glass baking dish, 2 stainless steel
screws with nuts, warm water, washing soda (not baking soda)
1. From one end of each wire, take off 1/2 inch of the
insulation. From the other end of each wire, take off 2 inches of
2. Wrap the 2 inch end of one wire around the end of one
screw and make it stay in place by screwing the nut on tightly. Do the
same for the second screw.
3. Fill the baking dish with warm water. For every
quart of warm water in the dish, use 1 teaspoon of washing soda.
4. Totally submerge the 2 test tubes in the water and turn
them upside down. Do not allow any air bubbles to form inside the test
tubes. The test tubes may be secured with clothespins taped to a cardboard
box making sure they stand firm.
5. Put the two steel screws with their wires
attached upward into the test tubes making sure the test tubes are still full of
warm water and that the test tubes will stay up. Bend the wire for the
screws so that they stay in place.
6. Connect the two wires coming from the screws to the
electrodes of the battery. What do you see? Bubbles should
form and float up off the steel screws. As the bubbles gather at the top
of the test tubes, gases push out some of the water. Watch until there is
about 1 inch of gas at the tops of the test tubes. Get a ruler and
measure. The water in one of the test tubes should be pushed down almost
twice as far as the water in the other. When water is broken down into two
parts, there should be twice as much of one chemical as the other.
Learn about different methods of growing crystals. Grow some
using each method. Observe using a magnifying glass. Record similarities
and differences of the crystals. Growing crystals take a few days but the
end product is well worth the time it takes to grow them.
A. One method of growing crystals:
1 clean glass jar
1 box of washing soda ( *not baking soda)
1 piece of thread - at least 18 inches in length
1 paper clip
1 spoon (metal)
1. Put the metal spoon in the jar and fill the jar almost
to the top with hot water.
NOTE: The spoon keeps the hot water from cracking the
2. Measure several teaspoons of washing soda into the jar
of hot water and stir until the soda is dissolved completely. Keep putting
spoons of washing soda into the hot water and stirring vigorously until the soda
3. Pour hot water into the bowl and stand the jar in the
bowl to keep the water inside the jar hot. Keep adding washing soda to the
jar and stirring until the soda will not disappear.
4. Tie the paper clip to one end of the thread and tie the
other end of the thread around the pencil.
5. Allow the paper clip to drop into the water.
6. Wind the thread around the pencil until the clip hangs
about midway the jar.
7. Lay the pencil across the top of the jar.
8. Poster paint may be added to the water in the jar to
make crystals in any shade you wish.
NOTE: As the water cools, it cannot hold the washing soda.
The soda forms crystals around the string. As the water in the jar
evaporates, it leaves the soda behind and this forms more crystals around the
Making a crystal column
washing soda (*not baking soda)
2 glass jars
4 or more pieces of wool yarn - approximately 14 inches or more
1 large plate
2 metal spoons
1. Put the spoons into the glass jars
2. Add the hot water almost to the top of the jars.
3. Stir in washing soda until the water is so saturated
the soda will not disappear.
4. Remove the metal spoons when the jars have adjusted to
5. Twist the yarn pieces together into a rope.
6. Put the jars in a warm place with the plate between
7. Poster paint may be added to the water for colored
8. Put each end of the yarn rope in one of the jars so
that the end touches below the surface of the saturated water.
9. The middle of the rope should hang over the plate.
10. In a few days, crystals will grow along rope and meet
in the middle.
NOTE: When the water and soda crystals meet in the middle
of the rope, the crystals drip onto the plate as the water evaporates.
Thus crystals form on the plate below and hang from the string above.
Since matter is anything that takes up space and has weight,
make a list of things that are matter and another list of things that cannot be
matter. Write/tell why each list is/is not matter.
Weigh a flat balloon and record its weight. Blow up the
balloon and record the weight. Calculate the weight differences.
Tell why there is a difference.
Gladys Lucas Tilley is currently employed by Corpus
Christi Independent School District in Corpus Christi, Texas as a Kindergarten
Teacher at Meadowbrook Elementary School. Gladys received an Associate
Arts Degree from Del Mar Junior College, a Bachelor of Science Degree from Texas
A & I University at Corpus Christi, and, a Master of Science Degree from
Corpus Christi State University. All are in Corpus Christi, Texas.
She also has post graduate hours in Bilingual Education. Gladys is in her
twenty-first year of teaching for the Corpus Christi Independent School
District. She is a member of The Association of Texas
Professional Educators, the Kindergarten section leader at her school, and a
current member of CCISD's Planning and Decision Making Committee. Her
special interests include membership in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (a
national service sorority), local, state, and national member of the African
Violet Society of America, and, the American Business Womens Association.
Gladys is most proud of having been the recipient of the Pro Ecclesia et
Pontifice Award given to her by Pope John Paul II.
Updated: July 25, 2003