What is Matter

GRADE

States of Matter Resource Page for Middle and High School



Properties describe matter. A block of wood, milk, and air all have properties. All the material on earth is in three states-solid, liquid, and gas. The "state" of the matter refers to the group of matter with the same properties. In other words, you group the objects together according to their properties.

Solids

The wood block is solid. A solid has a certain size and shape. The wood block does not change size or shape. Other examples of solids are the computer, the desk, and the floor.

You can change the shape of solids. You change the shape of sheets of lumber by sawing it in half or burning it.

From wood to

How might you change the shape of a piece of gum?

Liquids

Milk is a liquid. Milk is liquid matter. It has a size or volume. Volume means it takes up space. But milk doesn't have a definite shape. It takes the shape of its container.

Liquids can flow, be poured, and spilled. Did you ever spill juice? Did you notice how the liquid goes everywhere and you have to hurry and wipe it up? The liquid is taking the shape of the floor and the floor is expansive limitless boundary (until it hits the wall). You can't spill a wooden block. You can drop it and it still has the same shape.

What about jello and peanut butter?

You can spread peanut butter on bread, but peanut butter does not flow. It is not a liquid at room temperature. You have to heat peanut butter up to make it a liquid. When you or your mom makes jello, it is first a liquid. You have to put it in the refrigerator so that it becomes a solid. These are yummy forms of matter with properties of a liquid and a solid.

Gases

Run in place very fast for a minute. Do you notice how hard you are breathing? What you are breathing is oxygen? You need oxygen to live. That's why you can only hold your breath for a certain amount of time.

You can't see oxygen. It's invisible. It is a gas. A gas is matter that has no shape or size of its own. Gases have no color.

Gases are all around you. You can feel gas when the wind blows. The wind is moving air. Air is many gases mixed together.

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Pages and gif animations written and designed by Sheila M. Estacio. Please send comments, praises, gripes, questions to sme2446@is2.nyu.edu