Classifying Matter

Contributor: April Stokes. Lesson ID: 10577

"What's the matter with you?" Answer: "Oh, atoms, molecules, compounds." Learn why you take up space, using video, diagrams and a mystery experiment, to learn about substances, compounds and mixtures!

categories

Physical Science

subject
Science
learning style
Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Do you “matter”? In fact, you do and you are! You have atoms and you take up space — so therefore, you are matter. Understanding matter helps you understand your world. What are the different types of matter?

Image, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

What is matter?

  • Matter is anything that has mass and takes up space (volume).
  • Air is an example of matter because it has mass and volume.
  • Light and sound are not matter because they have no mass and no volume.

Every sample of matter is either an element, compound, or a mixture.

  • An element is a substance that cannot be broken down into simpler substances by chemical means.
  • Examples: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, helium
    * The smallest unit of an element is an atom, and each element is made up of one type of atom.
    * Elements are represented by one- or two- letter symbols (always a single capital letter or a capital letter followed by a lowercase letter).
    - Ex: Carbon’s symbol is C and Helium’s symbol is He.
    A molecule is the smallest unit of a substance that behaves like the substance.
    - Atoms can join to make millions of molecules just as letters of the alphabet combine to form different words.
  • A compound is a substance made up of atoms of different elements.
    * Each molecule of a compound contains two or more elements that are chemically combined.
    * When elements combine to make compounds, they always combine in the same proportions.
    - Think of compounds as recipes. If you change the recipe, then you change the compound. For example, 2 hydrogens combine with 1 oxygen (H20) to make water. If you add more hydrogens or more oxygens, then something other than water is made.
  • Compounds and elements are pure substances because they have fixed compositions and definite properties.
  • Mixtures are not pure substances because they do not have fixed compositions and definite properties.
    * Mixtures are NOT chemically combined.
    * Classified as heterogeneous or homogenous.
    - heterogeneous = can see the parts (Lucky Charms cereal or a garden salad)
    - homogenous = cannot see the parts; uniform (sweet tea or grape juice)

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