Solids, Liquids & Gases Lesson for Kids

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

An object's state of matter as a solid, liquid, or gas is determined by how close its atoms are to one another. Explore the properties of the three states of matter and how particles of matter move in solids, liquids, and gases. Updated: 12/07/2021

States of Matter

You walk into a room and notice three containers have been knocked over. One was filled with a solid block of wood, one was filled with water, and one was filled with air from a perfume bottle. The wood still looks okay, no problem there. The water is all over the floor, though. And you can smell the perfume everywhere! What happened here?

Every material on Earth can be classified into one of three states of matter. Matter is anything that is made up of atoms, and the state an object is in depends on how close together its atoms are. Atoms are the basic building blocks of all materials on Earth (and everywhere else). You can't see atoms because they are incredibly small. Even microscopes can't see atoms unless they are very high quality (and very expensive).

Let's take a look at the three main states of matter and how close their atoms are together.

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  • 0:04 States of Matter
  • 0:59 Solids
  • 1:37 Liquids
  • 2:09 Gases
  • 2:44 Lesson Summary
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Why didn't the wood block in our opening example make a mess like the water? In solids, the atoms are tightly packed together in a material. They are so close together that they do not move very much and will stay the same shape even if you put the solid somewhere else, like on a table. You will know something is solid because it is generally hard and keeps its shape, even if it's in a container with a different shape, like a round ball in a square box, or falls out of its container to the floor.

Look around the room and find three items that are solid. Hint: You're probably sitting on one. Wood, metal, and cardboard are common solids.

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