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What Is Chemistry? - Lesson for Kids

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Shoshana Yarin

Shoshana has taught all grades with an emphasis in science and has a master's degree in science.

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Christianlly Cena

Christianlly has taught college Physics, Natural science, Earth science, and facilitated laboratory courses. He has a master's degree in Physics and is currently pursuing his doctorate degree.

Chemistry is a branch of science that studies what everything is made of and how it works. Cooking and making ice are chemistry as well as medicines and paint. How does chemistry work and what does a chemist do? Find out in this lesson. Updated: 08/31/2021

Definition of Chemistry

Why does a cake rise in the oven? What are fireworks made from? How does my stomach digest food? How does gasoline make an engine run? What is the proper way to describe hot and cold? What creates the shape of a snowflake? These questions and many more are answered with chemistry, the study of the make-up of all things and how they behave.

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  • 0:04 Definition of Chemistry
  • 0:27 What Is Matter?
  • 0:54 What Is Matter Made Of?
  • 2:05 How Is Chemistry Used?
  • 3:06 Lesson Summary
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What Is Matter?

Everything that's anything is matter. Matter is defined as anything that has mass and takes up space. You are matter; trees, houses, rocks, water and even the air you breathe are matter. Not everything that's a noun is matter, however. Time, dreams, heat, or light are not matter. They do not have any mass, and they do not take up space. They are not made of matter.

What Is Matter Made Of?

So what is matter made of? Have you ever torn up a piece of paper? How small can you tear it? If you could keep dividing up that paper into pieces so small they could not even be seen with a microscope, you would get down to the very smallest possible particle that could not divide any further.

That smallest particle is called an atom. An atom represents a specific element, like hydrogen or oxygen or carbon. There are less than 100 natural elements that make up all matter in the universe in different combinations. In fact, paper contains hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon.

Maybe you've built something with Legos? Matter is made from atoms kind of like you might make something with building blocks. Some blocks are different sizes, colors, or have a different number of pegs for attaching.

Atoms are the building blocks of matter, and an atom of each element is different. Molecules are combinations of atoms. When hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms are combined in a very specific way, you have a molecule of paper. If it's combined in a different way, you might get sugar—that's how chemistry works.

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Additional Activities

Chemistry: True or False Activity

This activity will help you assess your knowledge of the branch of science known as chemistry.

Directions

Determine whether the following statements are true or false. To do this, print or copy this page on a blank paper and underline or circle the answer.

True | False 1. Salt particles dissolving in water is an example of chemical change.

True | False 2. Dark matter is anything that occupies space and has mass.

True | False 3. The visible light emitted by the Sun is an example of matter.

True | False 4. A microscope is an important optical instrument used for observing small objects.

True | False 5. A molecule is a particle made up of two or more atoms that are chemically combined.

True | False 6. Artificial elements are those elements that have been produced by nature without the intervention of man.

True | False 7. The melting of ice cream is an example of physical change.

True | False 8. Chemistry is the branch of science that deals with the composition and constitution of substances and the changes that they undergo.

True | False 9. The digestion of food inside the stomach is a type of chemical change.

True | False 10. A molecule is the smallest unit of matter that forms a chemical element.


Answer Key

  1. False, because the correct statement is: Salt particles dissolving in water is an example of physical change.
  2. False, because the correct statement is: Matter is anything that occupies space and has mass.
  3. False, because the correct statement is: The visible light emitted by the Sun is not an example of matter.
  4. True
  5. True
  6. False, because the correct statement is: Natural elements are those elements that have been produced by nature without the intervention of man.
  7. True
  8. True
  9. True
  10. False, because the correct statement is: An atom is the smallest unit of matter that forms a chemical element.

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