This is a survey activity geared toward upper Middle School and High School students that uses Inquiry-Base-Learning to address essential questions such as: What characteristics or properties determine a type of Matter? How are different kinds of Matter described? How do Models help explain various kinds of Matter and phenomena that occur? This activity uses samples of various materials that should be readily available to any science class. The activity promotes a Constructivist approach were learners are actively engaged in a process of meaning-making and knowledge construction. The activity was well field tested in grade 8, 9 Physical Science classes and High School Chemistry classes of varying levels with great success.
This activity can be modified to include or not the suggested definitions of Matter and to allow students to research the descriptions. Descriptions of various types of matter can be adjusted to grade level at the teacher’s discretion. The Activity may be modified to include more or less substances that are available. The activity can be used as an introduction to types of matter or as a summative assessment after the material is covered.
Students are asked to carry out a series of observations of various substances either in groups or as an individual and come to a consensus on what properties best describe the type of Matter being observed. Analysis questions are designed to allow students to be active learners and using academic language in carving their responses. The activity contains a List of Materials, Descriptions of various Matter types, Analysis Section and an answer key.
The following NGSS are supported by this activity: MS-PS-1-1 Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures. Emphasis is on developing models of molecules that vary in complexity. PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter - Matter of any type can be subdivided into particles that are too small to see, but even then the matter still exists and can be detected by other means. (MS-PS1-3) Each pure substance has characteristic physical and chemical properties that can be used to identify it. (MS-PS1-4) Gases and liquids are made of molecules or inert atoms that are moving about relative to each other and Developing and Using Models in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds.