Solid, Liquid & Gas Experiments for Kids

Instructor: Cara Rogers
Introduce the properties of solids, liquids, and gases by offering examples that are familiar to your students and can be found in your classroom. Get some ideas for fun, hands-on activities you can use within your lesson plan to keep students engaged and make the information more memorable.

Experiment: States of Matter in a Jar

Give your kids water in a plastic bag or other clear container for the them to observe. Let them pour the water into a different container and describe how liquids move. Use the short Structure and Properties of Water Molecules video lesson to help students learn about the properties of the water. Ask students what they learned from the video that they didn't record in their initial observations.

Next, have them stir up the water vigorously (or shake the water if it's in a sealed container). After disrupting the fluid, the students can observe the tiny bubbles that emerge. Show the video lesson on Dissolved Gas Process to open up discussion about the gaseous state of the water.

Collect all of your students' water containers, and put them into a freezer available in the school building. Remember the water will expand as it freezes so the containers should not be completely full. Ask the class what they suspect will happen, and allow them to informally hypothesize. Be sure to write their ideas on the side of the board, so that you can return to them at the conclusion of the experiment.

When the water has adequately frozen, pass the containers back out to the students. Review the students' predictions of what would happen. Spend some class time watching the video lesson on the Process of Melting and Freezing to help them understand what's happening with the water. During this time, the water in their containers would have started to melt.

Scavenging for States of Matter

To lead students into further exploration of the states of matter, take your class outside. In this experimental exercise, allow the students to observe different types of liquids, gases, and solids. Instead of offering one item in particular, let them explore the schoolyard and collect or point out objects to identify.

You may also wish to offer the class reference tools and handouts that can help your students identify the states of matter outside. The outdoors may provide a wide variety of new examples that range from simple and straightforward to more complicated and difficult to label.

During this exercise, allow students to observe and take note of the different qualities in each object as well as what certain objects have in common. After each student has had a chance to identify several objects as solid, liquid, or gas, you can discuss their findings and talk about the conclusions that were drawn.

Other Helpful Lessons and Handouts

  • Solids, Liquids, Gases, & Plasma - use this lesson to discuss the similarities and differences between the properties of each state of matter.
  • Water Phase Changes: Lab - show a short video that demonstrates another experiment related to the states of water. This experiment is ideal for high school chemistry or physics students to conduct with supervision at home or in the classroom.

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