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Performing particles

This is an activity in two parts which I use to teach Year 6 pupils about solids, liquids and gases. First I talk about particles and how their distribution varies in solids, liquids and gases.

The children are then asked to create a dance or drama script to show another group how these three can change from one to another. So, for example, one group does a dance piece about solids and liquids. They make themselves labels: one is "chocolate" (solid) and another "heat". These two get together and do a small dance. Now liquid arrives, chocolate (solid) turns into liquid and solid goes off stage. At the end we talk about the differences between the three.

I then show them a bowl of cornflour mixed with water and ask them if it is a solid, liquid or gas. They usually say that it's a liquid. I then get one of the pupils to punch it and it's really quite hard. At this point they may change their minds.

Then a child comes up and is encouraged to grab a handful and is able to make it into a ball. But when they relax their hand it runs through their fingers. So cornflour under pressure acts like a solid, but when not under pressure it is like a liquid. Cornflour mixture is one thing that they cannot label liquid, solid or gas.

The children really enjoy the drama or dance activity and get quite excited.

Rachel Marsh, West Malling CE primary School, Kent.

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