Science Experiment with Matter

What do these things have in common: an apple, a river, and the air we breath?

They may seem very different, but they’re alike in one way, they are all made of matter.

Matter is the stuff that makes up all the things in the world.  Your shoes, a flower, an egg, a dog, a rock, a tire, a book, a cloud, a goldfish, a jet plane, a pencil—mater makes up every one of these things, and everything else as well.  Matter even makes up your body.

Let’s go back to our first three examples: an apple, a river, and the air we breath.


[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”40″]Solids[/su_heading]

You can see and touch the matter in an apple.  It’s solid. Can you think of some other matter that’s solid?  How about a rock? A base ball? Your shoes?

Make a list of the solid things you see. Write these down in your lab book.


[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”40″]Liquids[/su_heading]

You can see and touch the matter in a river, too.  It’s not solid, though, or hard like a rock. It’s liquid.

Can you think of some other matter that’s liquid?  What about milk? Or the saliva in your mouth? Make a list of the liquid things you have in your house.  Write these down in your lab book.

The most common liquid on Earth is water. In fact, the water in the oceans covers over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.

Find a few containers, like a bowl, a jar, vase, etc. Now pour some water into the first item.  What did you notice?

Now pour the same water into the second container.  What did you notice?

Continue with the other containers.  Record what you see in your lab book.

You should have noticed that liquids flow. They have a definite size, but no definite shape.  They take the shape of any container they are poured into.


[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”40″]Gases[/su_heading]

Now, what about the air we breathe?  It’s different: it’s not a solid or a liquid.  You can’t see it.  You can’t reach out and touch it.  But  sometimes you can feel it, like when the wind blows.  When you feel the wind blowing on your face, you are feeling the matter in the air.  And think about this: when you blow up a balloon, what goes inside?  Some stuff goes into the balloon and makes it bigger.  That stuff is air, and air is matter.  But air is a different kind of matter: it’s not a solid or a liquid.  Air is a gas.

Matter in its third state is a gas. A gas has no particular shape.  It fills any container completely.  It has no particular size either.  Sometimes you can feel a gas—like air. Sometimes you can smell a gas—like hydrogen sulfide. (That smells like rotten eggs.)  Paden, do you remember when we went to Yellowstone Park and sometimes you could smell the strong air as we walked along the boardwalks?  That would have been hydrogen sulfide.  Sometimes a gas has color—like chlorine, which is used to keep swimming pools clean.   Gases can be very dangerous, so they have to be handled carefully.

[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”40″]Experiment[/su_heading]

You will need:

A bowl deeper that the cup

A cork or something that will float

A clear plastic drinking cup or a glass

Tissues or paper towels


Put water in the bowl but not quite to the top.  Drop in the cork and describe what happens: Using your hand push the cork to the bottom of the bowl, then let it go.  What happens? Now take the clear plastic cup (or glass). Lower it over the cork. What happens? Why do you think this happens?  What is pushing the cork down? 2. Leave the water in the bowl but remove the cork.  Dry the cup or glass.

Now crumble a few tissues or paper towels (if you use paper towels, first tear them into strips).  Stuff the crumples paper into the bottom of the cup.  The paper should stay firmly in the bottom of the cup when you turn it over.  Is the paper in the bottom of the cup dry?

Next put the cup (open end first) into the bowl of water.  Push it down until the rim of the cup touches the bottom of the bowl.  Pull the cup straight out of the water, making sure to keep the open end pointing straight down.  Let the water drip of the cup, then turn it over.  Check the paper in the bottom of the cup.  It should still be dry.  Why?  What do you think kept the paper from getting wet?”

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