The States of Matter
Shana came home from school one day with a riddle to solve. She had to figure out the name of something that can be poured, but can also be broken. It can float, but it can also melt. What kind of super substance can do all of these things? After some research, she learned that the answer is something we drink everyday: water!
Like other matter (which is all the stuff around you), water can be found or turned into different states of matter, or forms. States of matter are used to describe physical properties (the features you can observe) of matter; whether something is a solid, liquid, or gas. For instance, water is a liquid when melted, it's solid when frozen into ice, and it's a gas when boiled to make steam.
All matter is made up of particles (tiny pieces of matter). The way these particles move around (or don't move around) is how we classify matter into these three different groups. Let's look at each state of matter now.
Imagine being in a crowded room where nobody can move. Solids are made up of particles like this. They're so tightly packed together that they can't move about freely. Since they're stuck in place, their shape usually stays the same. The easiest way to identify a solid is by checking to see if it's hard and has its own shape.
Solids include things like TVs and ice. Don't be confused by things like sand and clay, which may not look like solids but actually are. Sand is just made up of very small pieces of solids, and when clay is left alone, it remains in its shape until molded.
Now imagine that there were fewer people in that room and people could walk around comfortably. Liquids have particles that can move around in a similar way. Unlike solids, liquids don't have a shape of their own because the particles move around more. Instead, liquids take on the shape of the cups, jars, bowls, or other containers they're in. They include many liquids we love, like soda, hot cocoa, and drinking water.
Picture a big room with three Kindergarten students and no teacher! They're running around having the time of their lives. The particles in gases do the same thing. They have lots of space, so they move around freely. Like liquids, gases do not have a shape. In fact, they're so wild and crazy that they don't even take on the shape of their container. But they can fill up a space.
Think about when you blow up a balloon. All those gas particles that leave your mouth move quickly through the balloon, causing it to expand and grow. We can't see most of the gases around us, but some include oxygen we breathe, helium used to inflate balloons, and the steam you see when water is boiling.
Okay, let's review what we've learned. The three main states of matter (solids, liquids, and gases) are made up of particles that move in different ways. Solids have their own shape because their particles are packed tightly and can't move. Both liquids and gases have moving particles and don't have their own shape, but liquids take on the shape of their containers and gases float around freely. Simple enough, right?
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States of Matter: Identification Exercise
In this activity, you'll check your knowledge regarding the three most common states of matter.
For this activity, identify whether the highlighted word in each of the given scenario is a solid, liquid, or gas. To do this, you must right-click and print this page. With a pencil and an eraser, neatly write your answers in the blank space provided.
_______________ 1. Nitrogen makes up seventy-eight percent of the Earth's atmosphere.
_______________ 2. The trunk is the most important part of the tree for timber production.
_______________ 3. Your cells use oxygen in the air to make energy so your body can work.
_______________ 4. Tea is one of the world's most commonly consumed beverages.
_______________ 5. Hydroelectric powerplants use energy from running water, such as in waterfalls and dams, to create electricity.
_______________ 6. Clays are used for producing building materials and ceramics.
_______________ 7. Dolomite is used as an ornamental stone, which if powdered serves as artificial beach sand.
_______________ 8. Bees produce honey, a sweet food substance, from the sugary secretions of plants.
_______________ 9. Rubbing alcohol is a denatured and undrinkable solvent, which is commonly used for cleaning and disinfectant purposes.
_______________ 10. Methane fumes are found in small quantities in Earth's atmosphere.
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