“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Teaching Properties of And Changes in Matter Using Stations

School has been back for six weeks and it has been a whirlwind!  Getting to know my fantastic fifth graders has been fun and interesting.  We have accomplished a LOT in a short amount of time and I know this class is destined for great things this year!  I switched grades from sixth to fifth and I am loving the change in curriculum.  It is a lot of work to find new and engaging activities but I love it when I find things which are new and fantastic.

One of my favourite units when I taught fifth grade a million years ago was called "Mystery Powders" and it involved the exploration of properties of matter.  Fast forward to 2014 and the unit in fifth is called Properties and Characteristics of Matter.  I love hands on investigations and so do my students.  There is something about collecting all the materials and setting up stations for the students to explore that make me wish I was in fifth grade again myself!  We started our unit with a fantastic set of stations from The Science Penguin.  
Picture of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Making a density column using kitchen materials

Picture of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Analyzing some data and writing explanations

Picture of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Matching pictures with definitions

Pictures of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Reading and recording what we have learned.

Picture of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Checking out Study Jams from Scholastic.

To help control the flow of the stations I assigned the students the iMatter project from The Science Penguin as well.  If they finished a station before the rest of the class they were able to work independently on the project, which they have put into their science notebooks.

Picture of Matter and Materials Stations @ http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

As part of the unit, we were fortunate to have Scientist Sophia from Scientists in School come into the classroom and conduct a variety of hands-on investigations which I would not be able to do with the students myself.  Scientists in School bill themselves as Canada's leading science education charity for kids.  

"Founded in 1989, Scientists in School (SiS) is a dynamic Canadian charity dedicated to helping Kindergarten to Grade 8 students to become 'scientists in their school', catalyzing long-lasting interest in science, technology, math, environmental stewardship and engineering and potentially encouraging future careers in science-related fields.  Our investigative workshops give young scientists the opportunity to interact with ecologists, physicists, engineers and more, and help make even the most reluctant learner enthusiastic. Our goal is for every Canadian child to have multiple opportunities to be sparked by science during their formative elementary school years. Annually, more than 630,000 children and youth in more than 23,000 English and French-speaking classrooms in 290 communities across Ontario and Southern Alberta experience a half-day SiS workshop each year. In the last 25 years, over six million children and youth have become scientists in their schools. Today, they're Scientists in School. Tomorrow, they're our leaders and innovators."

Scientist Sophia came to school early and set up a variety of exciting, hands-on activities for the students to explore.  She gave an excellent introduction which reviewed the vocabulary and essential terms for the unit.  She also explained in detail what the students would be doing step by step during each investigation. During the remaining half- day workshop students explored solids, liquids, gases and changes in state while playing the role of detectives seeking clues to the mysteries of matter.  For their first investigation, my class was challenged to discover the difference between physical and chemical changes by investigating whether all plastics are created equal.  Next, they participated in an evaporation race using mouthwash, water and baby oil and then they were invited to carry out some “cool “chemistry in a Ziploc bag which utilized acids and bases.  Students got to experience an exothermic reaction first hand.  Finally, they were tasked with finding the identity of a mystery compound using their prior knowledge, some further experimentation and clues gathered during this chemical adventure. Scientist Sophia was wonderful and she kept the students on task and thinking the entire afternoon.  I would highly recommend that all Ontario teachers book a Scientist in School presentation.  

Students testing a variety of "mystery powders" as the culminating investigation.

Picture of Hands On Properties and Characteristics of Matter at http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

Picture of Hands On Properties and Characteristics of Matter at http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca
Student recording in the booklet provided by Scientists in School

Hands On Properties and Characteristics of Matter at http://teachingisagift.blogspot.ca

I know my post covers more than one lesson, but I just couldn't pick what I loved most the past few weeks.  The kids loved the stations, demonstrated understanding of concepts with the iMatter project, and put it all into action during our Scientists in School presentation.  I hope you got some great ideas you can use in your classroom, or you will book a Scientist in School to come and work with your students!


  1. Your students are so lucky to have a teacher that values hands-on learning. Love your lessons!

    The Math Spot

    1. Thanks so much for leaving such a sweet comment! I am really passionate about providing my students with a variety of experiences so that their learning is engaging and includes depth and complexity. Hands-on is the best way to meet the needs of a diverse group of learners.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. This looks like SO much fun...I love seeing students REALLY engaged in science! Thanks for linking up this month!

  3. What an amazingly FUN activity! This makes me want to teach science!!!

    Jamie aka MissMathDork