Carolina Biological OSE – April 2024


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Physical Science

Kindergarten Physical Science

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Sara Crawford Sara Crawford 180 Points

Hello everyone! I am a preservice teacher at IPFW. I have an assignment to teach a lesson about matter as a part of a larger unit covering misconceptions about the topic. I am covering the misconception that a football is not a solid. However, I think that my students might have issues wrapping their minds around the concept of matter since they are so young and this is a rather abstract idea. Does anyone have any tips about how I can successfully introduce the idea of states of matter? Anything you can offer would be helpful. Thank you!

Matt Bobrowsky Matt Bobrowsky 6410 Points

One approach is to point out that a solid has a definite size and shape.  If you put a solid in a container, the solid doesn't change its shape to match the container, and it doesn't change its size. So, for instance, if you put a football in a big punch bowl, the football won't change its shape to match the bowl.  And it doesn't change its size.

A liquid, in contrast, will take the shape of whatever container it's in.  However, the liquid will not change its size (volume).

A gas takes both the shape and size of the container it's in.  That's hard to visualize since most gases are invisible, but you could add some smoke to the air in a container, such as a jar with a lid (e.g., by lighting and then blowing out a candle to make a little smoke).  They can then see that the air carries the smoke particles to all parts of the container.  Thus the gas -- air in this case -- fills the container.

Extension:  Some liquids are very slow-moving (a property that scientists call viscosity).  Silly Putty is an example.  If you make a little tower or other tall shape with Silly Putty, at first it will look like a solid, but if you look at it again in 5 minutes or 15 minutes, you will see that it has started to deform.  And if you come back in an hour or two, you'll see that it's in a puddle, or, if it's in a container such as the plastic egg it comes in, it will take the shape of that container after a while.  This shows that Silly Putty is actually a very slow-moving, or viscous, liquid.

I hope that helps.  


Autumn Morrison Autumn Morrison 735 Points

Hey, I think this can be a pretty difficult topic to cover with a younger age group but I think it is possible if you try to connect the topic to their everyday life. I would use something like water to explain the states of matter. You can create ice and show how the shape of ice (as long as it remains cool) keeps its shape. Then you can have water and show that liquid changes its shape by pouring it into different sized containers (food coloring could be added so that water is more easily visible). Then with has you could show them hot water and have them feel the steam, but I would be careful with it so that students do not hurt themselves. I also think it is important that you use appropriate vocabulary with the age group introducing vocab should be paired with the demonstartion so that student can have a direct reference. Hope this helps good luck on the lesson! Autumn

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92369 Points

The football is actually a solid, the air inside is a gas. I think you do need to bring that up. As science teachers, we sometimes become stumped when we look at objects because we know the inside is filled with a gas. Just like balloons. We think that if you put gas in a balloon that it will float. However, that depends on what kind of gas is filling the balloon. Since this is kindergarten, keep it straightforward. You are introducing them to content and it may be the first time that they have explored this topic. I made plastic cages with ping pong balls inside to differentiate solids, liquids, and gases. However, with smaller children that may be too much information for them. Gases and liquids can be poured, solids can not. Have you looked at the resources here on NSTA?

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92369 Points

Here is an example of a lesson: I work with 3-5th grade and even at that age they have misconceptions about matter. Allow your students time to figure out what is happening when they pour a liquid from say, a tall cylinder into a measuring cup. Have them pour it back and forth; is it still the same amount of water? Did it change its shape?

Olivia Westfall Olivia Westfall 1510 Points

Teaching the states of matter can be tough for this young of an age group!  I would say before covering misconceptions, introduce the idea in a general sense, so that they can first explore solids and liquids and the differences between the two.  I have attached a lesson that I did with first graders on states of matter using water.  We based it on Frozen and Olaf, it was super fun!  


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