Monday, November 21, 2011

Oh Dear! What Could the Matter Be?

Solid?  Liquid?  or Gas?

Yes folks, it was Science Thursday at The Quick Cricket and this week we learned about states of matter!  Such a great lesson for kids.

First, we talked about molecules.  I told them if we cut up a banana (I had a banana at the time, hence, the banana) into tiny pieces, the smallest piece (that was still banana) would be a molecule.  They are so so tiny!  But, like students in our class, they like to wiggle! (here we all wiggled).   I then told them that when molecules are cold they wiggle less than when they are warm.

Then, I brought out the ice cube, glass of water and steamy tea kettle.  I showed them water in all three states!  Then, I showed them pictures of rivers and oceans, glaciers and foggy hills.  Water in all three states in nature!  WHAT?  I know their minds were blown.

After our quick discussion about examples of the states of matter I transformed them all into molecules and we ran outside.  I froze, melted, and evaporated them into various states of matter in a great game I (tap tap on the back) invented myself!  (Huzzah!)

1.  Change all students into molecules of the same substance (no variable melting points for this game).
2.  Do a brief lesson on states of matter.  See above.
3.  In the solid state, your student-molecules must be touching at the shoulders and confined to a shape (inside a hula hoop you put on the ground to be your container).  In the liquid state, molecules may leave the container (spill out) and move around the yard but must maintain contact with each other by holding hands.  (think Crack the Whip).
In the gaseous state, molecules can drop hands and run as fast and as randomly as they wish around the yard.
Guess what state Student-Molecules maintain in their natural state?
4.  Teacher calls out "Colder! Colder! Solid!" or "Warmer, Warmer, Melting, Liquid!" to change the states.  Sometimes I would say, "I am adding more heat, you molecules are moving faster, and faster, some of you are melting out" or "some of you are starting to EVAPORATE!"

Hilarity ensues.
We didn't cover sublimation, though, this would be fun twist.  Especially if you brought some dry ice as an example. .. or to make root beer.

After our game we came back inside for a little art/science fusion.
We have been talking about primary colors and had started a Classroom Color Wheel.  I set up this little activity to have the kids observe secondary colors on their own.  It is fun to have them reach their own conclusions.  It was good review, too, for some that already knew (or thought they knew!) what colors would come about.

Glass Jars + Colored Ice Cubes= Art and Science Harmony
I pointed out that as the ice was warmed up (I used warm water to be more dramatic) the molecules in the ice moved faster, melted, and changed into a liquid, taking the colors with them.  We observed the color change as the ice melted.   This was a great activity because they could 1. do it themselves 2. draw cross-curriculum conclusions (we reviewed our Spanish colors as well) 3. the ice melting provided a slower color change.  It was almost like magic!

To really bring it home. . .and to bring something home, we did a beautiful art project that i have seen all over the internet but can't remember exactly where.  I didn't think it up, but i did copy it and that is worth something.  

I glued crayons in chromatic order across the top of canvasses the night before (I did a test as well to ensure that the melting point of the crayons was less than that of my glue. . .tragedy averted!  In the test I also found the need for a drop cloth as wax does splatter).  Then, I turned a blow dryer on and let the kids feel the air that came out.  It was warm!  I told them that water was not the only substance that changes states.  Any solid can melt and become a liquid and a liquid a gas if the right amount of heat is applied.  I showed them the canvasses and asked them what they thought would happen if we put the blow dryer on the crayons.  Then, I let them go for it.  2 at a time the kids aimed their air guns at the crayons and every the wax started to drip it was like Christmas morning.  Squeals, shouts, laughter, applause.  It was glorious.  I thought they would get bored watching the other kids cycle through but they didn't.  Every time was as magical as the first.  Every one turned out differently, too.  It was really one of the best projects we have done.  
The best part is, if you want it more blended or some wax chips off, you can always just apply more heat.  The kids loved this and I pretty much let them do it themselves and decide when they thought theirs was 'done'.  They all were different and that is what I love.

Favorite Quote of the Day:
Me:  Okay kids, what is an example of a liquid?
Cambell:  Chairs!
Me:  No, try again.
Cambell: Broken Chairs!
Me:  No, a liquid, something runny, like water?
Cambell: Broken chairs into teeny tiny, I mean really, really broken up chairs!

If nothing else "River of Chairs" does make a good band name. . .

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