What's the Matter?

Two weeks ago, we began exploring phases of matter.  We learned that everything is made up of matter.  We took a Matter Walk to note the solids, liquids, and gasses that surround us on campus.  Inside the classroom, we moved like molecules to understand the different phases of matter.  We found that in solids the molecules are packed tightly together making movement difficult or impossible, in liquids the molecules are loosely packed so that a liquid can take the shape of its container, and in gas the molecules are very loosely packed and can move beyond their container. 

Next, we studied ways to change matter from one phase to another.  We worked in groups to experiment with methods to change a solid ice cube into a liquid form – water.  Then, we wondered if a liquid could be changed back into a solid.  We hypothesized that putting a liquid into the freezer would turn it into a solid.  When we check at the end of the day we had tasty apple juice ice cubes!

We wondered if there were other ways for matter to changes phases besides freezing and melting.  We started an experiment to investigate the possibility of reuniting sugar molecules that had been separated in water.  First, we dissolved sugar in hot water.  Next, we added a little food coloring and either lemon or peppermint flavor. After that, we dipped a toothpick into our sugar and water solution.  Finally, we rolled the toothpick into sugar and then suspended it in the jar of sugar and water.  We are currently observing the jars each day to see if the sugar molecules on the toothpick will attract the other sugar molecules that were dissolved in the water and bring them together on the toothpick to form rock candy.  So far it is taking longer than expected but we are noticing growth each day. 

To wrap up our matter explorations, we made Oobleck.  As we described the properties it exhibited we found that it was hard to firmly categorize.  Because Oobleck has properties of both a liquid and solid it is defined as a non - Newtonian fluid.