Marie Curie Math & Science Center

Dawn M. Keegan

Group 7A

Matter and Its Forms

Grade Four


Commencement content standard 

Standard 2: Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

Standard 4: Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

Benchmark standards:

Benchmark standards: Elementary
Content standards

Standard 2: Information Systems

Number 1: Information technology is used to retrieve, process, and communicate information and a tool to enhance learning.

Standard 4: Physical Setting

Number 2: May of the phenomena that we observe on Earth involve interactions among components of air, water, and land on Earth.

Number 3: Matter is made up of particles whose properties determine the observable characteristics of matter and its reactivity.

Number 4: Energy exists in many forms, and when these forms change energy is conserved.

Number 5: Energy and matter interact through forces that result in changes in motion.

Performance standards

  • Student will use a variety of equipment and software packages to enter, process, display, and communicate information in different forms using text, tables, pictures, and sounds. 
  • Student will telecommunicate a message to a distant location with teacher help. 
  • Student will access needed information from printed media, electronic data bases, and community resources. 
  • Students will describe the relationships among air, water, and land on Earth. 
  • Students will observe and describe properties of materials using appropriate tools. 
  • Students will describe chemical and physical changes, including changes in states of matter. 
  • Students will describe a variety of forms of energy (e.g.., heat, chemical, light) and the changes that occur in objects when they interact with those forms of energy. 
  • Students will observe the way one form of energy can be transformed into another form of energy present in common situations (e.g., mechanical to heat energy, mechanical to electrical energy, chemical to heat energy). 
  • Students will describe the effects of common forces (pushes and pulls) on objects, such as those caused by gravity, magnetism, and mechanical forces. 
  • Students will describe how forces can operate across distance


Content standards or outcomes

  • Students will work in groups cooperatively. 
  • Students will preform experiments safely. 
  • Students will record their observations of each experiment in their Science Journal. 
  • Students will create a mixture that will take all 3 states of matter. 
  • Students will share a current event that pertains to Matter and Its Form. 
  • Students will demonstate understanding by applying it to everyday life. 
  • Students will create a short experiment on any matter or mass topic individually or with a partner.



Performance measures

Some criteria for student evaluation based on attitudes and behavior are:
  • Curiosity - awareness of environment, questioning attitude 
  • Open-mindedness - interest in new ideas 
  • Initiative - ability to work independently of direct guidance 
  • Willingness to risk failure or to try novel ideas 
  • Imagination in integrating background knowledge and science experiments 
  • Sense of responsibility to the group 
  • Powers of observation 
  • Organization and purpose in attacking a problem 
  • Purpose and facility in using equipment 
  • Record keeping - completeness and form 
  • Communication - relevancy of message, balance between listening and telling 
  • Ability to classify information and delineate problems 
  • Ability to evaluate data and formulate generalizations 
  • Ability to complete a job 
  • Care and respect for equipment


Enabling Activities:


Phases of Matter- some background information-

Everything around you is made of stuff called matter, and all matter is made of atoms. Matter is anything that comes in three varieties, what scientists call phases. There are solids like rocks, cookies, and yourself. There are liquids like water, honey, and juice. And there are gases, such as air or steam. The main difference in the three phases is how fast the matter’s atoms move.

All atoms move around because they have energy. The more energy in something, the faster the atoms. Atoms in an ice cube don’t move very much -- they are frozen in place. The atoms in a glass of water slip and slide around-- that’s why you can pour water. Water vapor atoms are moving pretty fast-- that’s why they float away. Changing an object’s phase of matter is just a matter of adding energy to atoms or taking it away.

Heating adds energy to atoms, and freezing takes energy away from atoms. If you fried an ice cube in a pan on a stove, you would see all three phases of matter --ice cube, liquid water, and water vapor.

Describing Air:

Purpose: Students will observe that air takes up space.

Materials needed:

*large plastic container
*2 plastic cups


*paper towels


What does air look like? What color is the air? What shape is it? In your Science Journal draw what you think air looks like? Air has no shape but fills everything. Air is everywhere, even inthe things that look empty. Although air is invisible and has no shape, you can see its strength on a windy day. You can feel its force when you ride your bike.

One way you can describe air is that it takes up space. You can show that air takes up space by pouring air from one plastic cup to another.


1. Fill a large plastic container with enough water so that you can hold a cup completely underwater.

2. Hold one plastic cup under the water to fill it with water.

3. Carefully turn the cup upside-down underwater so that the water stays in the cup.

4. Hold the second cup upside-down above the water. Keeping the cup upside-down, slowly push it into the water until it is under the water.

5. What is inside the cup?

6. Move the cups next to each other.

7. Now raise the cup filled with water slightly higher than the cup filled with air.

8. Now pour the air from one cup to the other.

Science Journal

*What happened to the water in the cup when you poured air into it?

*What can you tell about air from what you observed?

Observing How Fast Matter Changes States

Purpose: Observe, measure, and compare how fast water changes states under different conditions.

Materials needed:

*2 clear jars

*1 jar lid

*large shallow bowl


*graduated cylinder


1. Use a table like the example below to record your observations.

2. Add 200 mL of water to each jar and the bowl.

3. Put the lid on 1 on the jars.

4. Put the 2 jars and a bowl in a warm place in the room.

5. Wait for 3 or more days. Then use a graduated cylinder to measure the amount of water that is left each jar and the bowl. Record this information in your table.

Record your results:

Container Water after 3 days
Opened jar  
Jar with lid  

Science Journal:

State your Conclusion:

1. Which container lost the most water?

2. Which container lost the least water?

3. In this activity, under what conditions does liquid water change to water vapor the fastest?

Use What You Learned:

Do you think the same amount of water in a large, shallow puddle or in a small deep puddle would dry up faster? Explain your answer.

Measuring Volume

Purpose: Measure the volume of solid objects in two ways.

Materials needed:

*small wooden block



*50 mL graduated cylinder

*small rock


1. Use tables like the ones shown to record your results.

2. Measure the length, width, and height of a block of wood in cm. Record these numbers in your table.

3. Add 30 mL of water to a graduated cylinder. You have measured the volume of the water. Record this number in your table.

5. Carefully add a small rock to the water in the graduated cylinder. Read the graduated cylinder again and record this number in your table. This number is the volume of the rock added to the volume of the water.

6. Find the volume of the rock by subtracting the original volume of the water from the new volume of the water and the rock. Record this volume in your table.

Science Journal

Record Your Results


Length Width Height Volume


Volume of Volume of Volume of rock

Water Water and rock

State Your Conclusion:

1. How can you use a ruler to find the volume of a solid object?

2. How can you use a graduated cylinder to find the volume of a solid object?

Use What You Have Learned:

How could you measure the volume of a piece of chalk?

How Can We Compare Density?

Purpose: Students will learn to compare the density of objects.

Materials needed:

*20 bathroom size paper cups

*1 lb. unpopped popcorn

*1 pkg. microwave popcorn popped

*10 clear plastic containers

*7 wooden double pan balance


The use of the double pan balance allows the student to focus directly on the compariaon of objects by mass. Weight is the comparison of an object to a known scale. Weight is the measure of force, which gravity exerts on an object. In common use, wight and mass can be interchanged. Under water or in outer space mass remains the same but weight changes due to variations in gravitational pull.


Density is the amount of mass that a material has for its volume. Some objects have more mass than others. Let’s prove it! Don’t forget to use your Science Journal.

Student procedure in groups of three:

1. Fill one paper cup with unpopped corn. Fill the other cup with popped corn.

2. Place one cup on each pan of the balance. Record with cup has the greater mass.

3. Predict whether the popped or unpopped corn will float in water. Record your prediction.

4. Put some popped and unpopped corn into the container with water. Record your observations.

Bring the group together and ask the following questions:

1. How does the volume of the popped corn compare with the volume of the unpopped corn?

2. Which cup of corn has the greatest mass?

3. What did you observe when both samples of corn were put in water?

4. Does popcorn become more or less dense after it is popped? How do you know?

Rock Candy

Purpose: Solids, liquids and gases. You can make a sugary snack while you see the three phases of matter. All you have to do is perform this experiment.

Materials needed:

*pot to boil water

*One cup of water

*Two cups of sugar

*wooden spoon

*glass jar (e.g., jelly jar), make sure it’s clean


*pair of scissors


*plastic wrap


1. Boil the cup of water.

2. Once it’s boiling, add two cups of sugar.

3. Stir with the wooden spoon a bit and continue to boil.

4. While that’s happening, cut a piece of string and tie it to the middle of the pencil. Test the length by laying the pencil over the mouth of the jar -- the end of the string should not touch the bottom of the jar.

5. Once the sugar is dissolved in the water, have the adult pour the liquid into the glass jar.

6. Lay the pencil over the mouth of the jar so the string is dangling in the liquid.

7. Wait for the steam to stop rising out of the jar. When it stops, cover the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap.

8. Put the jar in a safe place where it won’t be disturbed.

9. Science Journal: Keep a log with illustrations of the phases that your experiment is going through.

10. In a few days, pull the string out of the jar. You started with a liquid, saw some steam, and, if you followed the experiment, you’ve ended up with a solid.

Sorry, but they’re not diamonds -- it’s rock candy. Normally you should never taste and science experiment, but this is an exception. Isn’t science sweet?

Exploring Density

Purpose: To explore how an objects level of suspension depends upuon the liquid’s density and the object’s density.

Materials needed:

*5 clear-plastic cups

*tweezers or tongs

*five each of five different, small objects (e.g., golf tees, erasers, popcorn kernels, beads, and toothpicks)

*collect small containers of the following:

*rubbing alcohol


*mineral oil

*cooking oil

*white corn syrup


1. Place the cups so they are visible to all the students.

2. Have volunteers each fill a cup with a different liquid.

3. Start with one set of small objects, such as the golf tees, and give one to each volunteer. Tell the class to watch carefully. Then signal the kids to drop the objects into the cups simultaneously. 4. Have your students write their observations in their Science Journals. When everyone has finished writing, have the kids remove the objects with tongs or tweezers.

5. Choose five other students to take a turn dropping another set of objects into the cups.

6. Have students write their observations.

7. Continue this procedure with the rest of the objjects. Then ask the children to share observations and draw conclusions.

They should conclude that the object’s level of suspension depends upon the liquid’s density and the object’s density.

Melting Matter

Purpose: Children will explore the changes in matter.

Material needed:

*glass of water

*an ice cube




1. Place the ice cube in the glass of water.

2. Lay the string across the ice cube so that the ends dangle over the sides of the glass.

3. Sprinkle salt on top of the ice.

4. In Science Journals have students predict what will happen to the salted ice.

5. Wait 3 or4 minutes, than lift the string.

The students will lift the ice cube out of the water as well.

Now ask your students why you were able to lift the ice with the string. Write about your prediction and why it worked or didin’t work.

They’ll find that salt lowers the freezing point of ice and causes it to melt. A portion of the ice cube melted aroung the string, but the remainder of the frozen cube caused the melted part to refreeze around the string.

Measuring Density

You can easily compare the density of one kind of matter with another kind of matter if you have the same volume of each object. If you measure the mass of 1 cubic centimeter of wood, your will find that it has a mass of a little less than 1 gram. If you measure the mass of 1 cubic centimeter of salt, you will fink that it has a mass of about 2 grams. Does the wood or the salt have a greater density?

Purpose: Students will be able to determine how much mass is in a certain volume of matter using every day liquids.

Materials needed:

*graduated cylinder

*3 beakers

*rubbing alcohol

*vegetable oil


*blue, red and yellow food coloring

*stop watch


1. Pour the same amounts of different liquids into the separate beakers. Place drops of food coloring in each of the beakers.

2. Ask students what the volume of each liquid is? Record in Science Journal.

3. Discuss how each liquid has a different mass - or amount of matter- in that space.

4. Pour two of the liquids into the beaker. Time how long a reaction takes place.

5. Which liquid has more matter in it?

6. Which liquid has greater density?

7. Which liquid has least density?

8. Pour the third liquid into the beaker. Time how long a reaction takes place.

9. Which liquid has more matter in it?

10. Which liquid has greater density?

11. Which liquid has least density?


The water has more matter in it than the same volume of oil does. The water has a greater density than the oil does. The oil has more matter in it than the same volume of alcohol does.

Density is another property of matter that you can measure. A unit for density uses both a unit used for measuring mass and a unit used for measuring volume. For example, 1 cubic centimeter of water has a mass of 1 gram. Water’s density is 1 gram per cubic centimenter.

If a solid object has a greater density than wate has, it will sink in water. If an object has a lower densiry than water has, it will float. Most people can float. Their density is slighhtly less than the density of water.

Making Oobleck

Pre-Activity: Read Bartholomew and Oobleck by Dr. Suess

Purpose: The students will need to determine if the mixture made is a solid or a liquid.

Materials needed:


*waxed paper

*paper plate

*white powder (corn starch)

*green liquid (food coloring)

*paper towels

*plastic spoon


1. Cover your desk with newspapers.

2. Put two (2) teaspoons of white powder on your paper plate.

3. Add a few drops of green liquid and stir the mixture wiith your spoon. Add liquid until the mixture is nice and smooth.

4. Carefullty test the "OOBLECK". Use a piece of waxed paper so it doesn’t stick to your newspaper.

Here are some things you might do:

a) Try to pour it.

b) Poke it with your fingers.

c) Poll it into a ball and try to bounce it on the desk.

Note your findings in your Science Journal.

What Did You Learn?

1) How was the "OOBLECK" like a solid?

2) How was the "OOBLECK" like a liquid?

Using What You Learned:

1) What other objects acts like a solid and a liquid? Name them:

2) How are the objects on your list like solids? How are they like liquids?

A Non-Newtonian Fluid

Purpose: The students will create their own liquid that does not act according to the basic laws of fluid dynamics.

Materials needed:





Most liquids follow the basic laws of fluid dynamics: They remain liquid, taking the shape of their container, even at high pressures.

An interesting liquid that does not act according to those laws can be made from a powdered cornstarch and water.

At the proper ratio (approximately 60% starch: 40% water depending on the mineral content of the local water), a cornstarch/ water mixture will react to external pressure. It will remain a thick liquid in the palm of the hand. When squeezed, it will instantly solidify. When the pressure is realeased, the solid will immediately return to a liquid state.


1. Provide students with samples of cornstarch and water. Do not give them the correct mixing ratio for the two ingredients. Instead, show them a sample of the amazing fluid.

2. Challenge them to create a similar sample.

3. Allow them to experiment with and make record of different mixing ratios in their Science Journals. They will eventually discover a ratio of the two ingredients which behaves in the fantastic manner.

The thick fluid solidifies under pressure because the water molecules are forced into a temporary crystal lattice with the large protein molecules of the cornstarch. Similar to the reaction that takes place when wet concrete hardens, the water molecules form a very strong crystal lattice. In concrete, the crystals are strong and permanent. In the starch the crystals will form only under pressure. As soon as the pressure is released, the crystals collapse.
Individual or Partener Project:

Using any method of research, books, reference, Internet, E-Mail, experimentation, you must come up with an experiment to share with the class. If you wish to make a hypothesis statement before beginning and then prove of disprove your hypothisis, that is acceptable. Please see me initially to approve your idea whichever method you choose..


Use any type of reference to find out about the different states of matter in Halley’s Comet. What kind of change takes place as the comet moves toward the sun?


Melting point and boiling point are two properties of matter that can be measured. Find out what melting point and boiling point are and what unit scientists use to measure them. What are the melting point and boiling point for water and for iron?

Bibliography/Reference Materials:

Air by Andrienne Soutter-Perrot. Published by Creative Editions, 1993.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss. Published by Random House, 1949.

Bet You Can! by Vicki Cobb and Kathy Darling. Published by Avon Camelot. 1983.

Bet You Can’t! by Vicki Cobb and Kathy Darling. Published by Avon Camelot. 1980.

From Glasses to Gases: The Science of Matter by Dr. David Darling. Published by Dillon Press, 1992.

"Learning 94" Volume 23, Number 1 August.

Measurements and How We Use Them by Tillie Pine. Published by McGraw/Hill, 1977.

Solids, Liquids and Gases by Melvin Berger. Published by G.P.Putman’s Sons, 1989.

Wanna Bet? by Vicki Cobb and Kathy Darling. Published by Avon Camelot. 1993.

Weighing and Measuring by Annabel Thomas. Published by Usborne Publishing, 1986


St. Thomas Aquinas College, 125 Route 340, Sparkill NY 10976-1050