In this interactive activity, students view six models to investigate what a gas, liquid, and solid look like at the atomic level. Choose to view a gas or liquid made of atoms only, a gas made of diatomic molecules, a liquid made of triatomic molecules, or two types of solids. In each simulation, users may highlight an atom and view its trajectory to see how the motion differs in each of the three primary phases. Don't miss the extension activity: a side-by-side comparison of the atomic structure of a hot liquid and a cold liquid. If you click "Withdraw the Barrier", the two liquids mix. Which state of matter has stronger attractions between atoms?
This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology. The Concord Consortium develops deeply digital learning innovations for science, mathematics, and engineering.
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Editor's Note:This resource is appropriate for introductory physical science and for conceptual physics courses. It can be adapted for middle school, especially if use is preceded by the Related Resource "Melting Ice". Teacher-users who complete the free registration may take snapshots to capture data, store work, and access free Teacher's Guides with student problem sets and answer keys.
Metadata instance created
May 10, 2011
by Caroline Hall
August 15, 2016
by Lyle Barbato
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
4D. The Structure of Matter
6-8: 4D/M1a. All matter is made up of atoms, which are far too small to see directly through a microscope.
6-8: 4D/M1cd. Atoms may link together in well-defined molecules, or may be packed together in crystal patterns. Different arrangements of atoms into groups compose all substances and determine the characteristic properties of substances.
6-8: 4D/M3ab. Atoms and molecules are perpetually in motion. Increased temperature means greater average energy of motion, so most substances expand when heated.
6-8: 4D/M3cd. In solids, the atoms or molecules are closely locked in position and can only vibrate. In liquids, they have higher energy, are more loosely connected, and can slide past one another; some molecules may get enough energy to escape into a gas. In gases, the atoms or molecules have still more energy and are free of one another except during occasional collisions.
11. Common Themes
6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
9-12: 11B/H5. The behavior of a physical model cannot ever be expected to represent the full-scale phenomenon with complete accuracy, not even in the limited set of characteristics being studied. The inappropriateness of a model may be related to differences between the model and what is being modeled.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Particles and Interactions and the Standard Model Unit Title: Matter and Interactions
Students will interact with six models to investigate what a gas, liquid, and solid look like at the atomic level. View a gas or liquid made of atoms only, a gas composed of diatomic molecules, a liquid made of triatomic molecules, or two types of solids.
%0 Electronic Source %D 2006 %T Concord Consortium: States of Matter %I The Concord Consortium %V 2017 %N 21 January 2017 %9 application/java %U https://concord.org/stem-resources/states-matter
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