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Matter info



The first unit we will explore this year is matter and energy. This corresponds to pages 29 -35 & 100-105 & 108-111 in the textbook. We will learn what matter is, the states of matter, and conversions between the states of matter. Then we will investigate some properties of matter (like density) and specific states of matter (like liquids). We will learn Archimedes principle, Bernoulli’s principle, how flight works, and pressure. Hopefully we will answer: Why do some things float, others do not, and a submarine can do both? What keeps airplanes and hot air balloons up and what gets them down? What is with those suits astronauts wear? Why is a weather balloon only partially inflated before being sent into the upper atmosphere?


What is matter?


Almost everything you can think of is composed of matter. We will learn more about what matter is made of later in the year. All that stuff is constantly wiggling, spinning, and moving.


What forms or states does matter come in? What are the states of matter?


Any substance can be in any one of these states. You can have liquified (or even solidified) air! Obviously only three of these states are experienced by us regularly here on Earth.


So what is the difference between these different states of matter? Draw them:


A super-solid condensate has all of its tiny particles doing:


A solid has all of its tiny particles doing:


A liquid has all of its tiny particles doing:


A gas has all of its tiny particles doing:


Plasma has all of its tiny particles doing:


How do you convert a substance from one state to another? What is the name given for state changes?


draw: melting, freezing, evaporation, condensation, sublimation


evaporation is a cooling process.

condensation is a warming process.

Properties of matter - temperature of state changes, color, hardness, smell, burnable, reactivity, density, transparency, etc.


Let’s play around with solids

Shape and cleavage based on bonding.


Let’s play around with liquids

Water! Adhesion, cohesion, viscosity.

Define adhesion -

Define cohesion -

Define viscosity -


Let’s play around with gases

gasses have mass and substance.


When immersed in a fluid (like the air we exist in), the fluid pushes in on an object from all directions. We call this pressure and it pushes equally in all directions. This means that the column of air above you right now pushes down on you with about the weight of a compact car. But it is also pushing the air next to you which causes that air to push on you sideways with the weight of a car (and so on and so forth in all conceivable directions--even up!). This upward pushing is called buoyancy and is what ultimately pushes planes and ships up in their respective fluids.


The upwards force led a brilliant man named Archimedes to discover a principle that we now call Archimedes' principle. Define Archimedes' principle.

This is how my dad’s boat will float.


A brilliant person studied a few interesting features of fluids and realized that if you push away the fluid on one side of an object, you push away the force pushing in on it from that side and the whole object moves that way. Simply stated, Bernoulli’s principle says:


Understanding this has allowed flight. Draw an airfoil and show how lift works.


Putting all of this together is the study of aerodynamics (or hydrodynamics).


Since matter has mass and volume, an important property of matter is it’s density

Density =


Review questions:

Define matter.

List some properties of matter.

What are the states of matter?

What are the processes by which we convert one state to another?

Contrast adhesion and cohesion.

Define viscosity and fluid.

State Archimedes principle and how it allows for metal ships to float.

Define pressure.

State Bernoulli’s principle and how it allows for flight.

Calculate density.


If you have enjoyed the topics in this unit, feel free to investigate further. Here are some ideas. These are NOT required, but I hope you have fun and delve into some of them:


We touched upon the newest state of matter (Bose-Einstein super-solid condensate). What is it? What makes it different from a regular solid? Who discovered it? Research it.


Archimedes discovered and invented a lot in his day. Research him and some of his scientific breakthroughs. Maybe construct one of his inventions.


Which airplanes act like our paper airplanes (i.e. not using airfoils)? Why?


A refrigerator works by evaporation and condensation. Research it more to learn how and maybe build your own refrigerator (Cara did a few years ago).


Play around with buoyancy, adhesion, cohesion, etc. and look up a fun lab / activity the whole class can participate in.


Scuba divers deal with pressure a lot! What are “the bends”? How do divers protect themselves from the pressure?


Engineers design dams with pressures in mind. Look into how dams are built.


Flight obviously deals with pressure a lot. Research flight more. What is “wind shear”? How does a “flying wing” work?


Vehicle designers use aerodynamics to create faster and more efficient vehicles. Look into the design of some kind of vehicle.


Learn more about Bernoulli or Archimedes. They were fascinating people

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