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States of Matter Explored in 6th Grade

Considering how much of my science class is currently taught, lots of reading from a textbook and answering questions related to the text, I wanted to find different activities for my students to expand their knowledge.  After looking at what Dr. Reeves (2001, and in Canter & Associates, 2004) included in great lessons that kids will learn from and considering what needs to be involved, I decided to attempt a more hands on approach including as much information from the real world as possible.  So here goes!

I am looking at meeting the MN standard for 6th grade science concerning matter.  My students will need to understand that all matter is made of small particles and how those particles explain the properties of matter.  That means they need to know what an atom is, know the three states of matter, and how particles behave in each of those states. 

The tough part of finding an engaging way for students to learn about matter is to take a step out of the textbook and apply their knowledge to the world they know.  After learning about atoms and how they interact within a single substance, I want my students to see what happens with a common everyday substance - water.  Most students are well aware of the 3 states of water: solid – ice, liquid – water, gas – steam.  They will examine in groups how the particles within a solid (ice) do not seem to move, how the particles of a liquid (water) move around slowly yet remain close together, and how the particles of gas (steam) move about freely.  I also want to measure the volume of the different states of matter to show how matter expands and contracts with the movement of the particles.   (We will be capturing steam inside a balloon to measure its volume.)  My students will need to write about the properties of each state of matter, including how particles move about.  After seeing how the particles move around and at what temperatures water can change states, I will have my students choose at least 5 common everyday substances and research their freezing and boiling points.  They will share their research by creating a graph and writing how these substances are commonly used in the different states.  More advanced students can create their graphs in a spreadsheet.

I hope I have found an engaging way to include all learners in my classroom.  I tried to provide a variety of tasks for students to learn and demonstrate their knowledge of an essential science concept.  In creating this scenario, I have included the science standard I began with and blended in standards from Mathematics (measuring and graphing), Language Arts (writing process) and Technology (creating spreadsheets).   I feel it is important to provide a solid learning experience that includes a variety of task to help the variety of students we have in our classes.  Providing an interesting set of activities should create a high level of interest on the part of the student that will help them truly learn and keep their new knowledge. 

I know there are many science teachers out there.  Please feel free to add your ideas to mine.  J



Reeves, D. (2001).  What do all engaging scenarios have in common?   Making standards work: How to implement standards-based assessments in the classroom, school, and district (3rd ed., pp. 113–116). Denver, CO: Advanced Learning Press.

Canter & Associates (Executive Producer). (2004). Designing Curriculum and Instruction, Program Seven: Learning Experiences [Motion Picture].   

Published Sunday, September 14, 2008 1:19 PM by Kraftyone
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About Kraftyone

I am a 6th grade teacher in a small district in central Minnesota. I have been teaching for 13 years and love almost every minute of it! :) I have been happily married for 12 years. We have 2 great kids ages 8 and 10. They keep us active, but I love it!

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