Rock Cycle - Chemistry (2)
Pre Lab 

  • Comparing the states of matter.
  • Analyzing the periodic table of the elements.
  • element
  • gas
  • liquid
  • matter
  • periodic table
  • plasma
  • solid

Students discover the different types of elements on the Periodic Table.

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All "things" in the Universe can easily be classified as either solids, liquids, gases, or plasma. A solid is a state of matter with a boundary to its volume and shape. A liquid's shape and volume is defined by the container it is in. A gas can take on the shape and volume of the container that encloses it and can expand indefinitely. A plasma refers to matter that is composed of electrically charged particles. Plasma is very abundant in the Universe. The best way to illustrate these states of matter is to use examples. A book is solid, water is a liquid, air is composed of gases, and the "light" in a fluorescent lamp is plasma.

A fifth state of matter has recently been confirmed. This new state of matter is called the Bose-Einstein condensate. This state of matter is only observed under extreme cold temperature. It seems that under these temperatures the different elements and compounds act very strange, some even seem to levitate! Scientists do not know all there is about this state of matter, but it is a good example of how our understanding of science changes with new information.

  1. Go around the room and have students identify substances as being solid, liquid, gas or plasma. Make a list on the board. A solid could be a table or pencil; a liquid could be water or blood; gas could be air or helium; and plasma could be a fluorescent bulb or the plasma ball. You will not be able to find any examples of Bose-Einstein condensate.
  2. Tell your students that matter is made of elements. Some elements are natural (90), others elements are man-made (19). Most substances that your students are familiar with are made of these elements. The elements can be solids, liquids, or gases. None of the natural elements are in a state of plasma on Earth.
  3. Give students a Periodic Table Placemat and have them look at the symbols. The Periodic Table is a "handy dandy" guide to all the elements. Remember, the Periodic Table was developed to be looked at as reference material, not something that was meant to be memorized. Once you learn how to use the table, it can tell you many things about the elements. You might want to point out the following elements that the students may be familiar with:
         H = hydrogen, a gas
         He = helium, a gas
         Ca = calcium, a solid
         Si = silicon, a solid
         Au = gold, a solid
         U = uranium, a solid
         Ag = silver, a solid
         Hg = mercury, a liquid
  4. Students love to find elements on the Periodic Table. You can make a racing game out of finding the elements by asking students to raise their hands when they find a certain elements. They should have to be able to tell you the element's atomic number when you call on them.

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