Overview: After noting the differences between by describing their physical properties, young scientists engaging a hands-on Properties Hunt around the classroom to better understand the properties of matter.
Subject: Science: Physical Science; Math: Measurement
Grades: 4th, 5th
Duration: 2 hours
Related Concepts: Matter, States of Matter, Properties of Matter
Students will be able to:
- Describe an object using its characteristics or properties.
- Differentiate between an object's width, height, length, volume, and weight.
Essential Questions: How can identifying the properties of an object tell me more about it? What do the differences in the properties of objects tell me about their states of matter?
Vocabulary: matter, properties of matter, characteristics, width, height, length, volume
Common Core Standards:
- Math: Measurement
Next Generation Science Standards:
- Physical Science: Matter
Household/classroom items that have different measurements (e.g. water bottle, whiteboard eraser, safety pins, broom, etc.)
Paper and pencils
Science journals (if currently used)
- Internet access
- Projection system
- Document viewer (optional)
Collect a variety of items with different properties and them available on a tray or with a document viewer. Avoid images of objects; try to have the real object available.
Place additional items around the classroom or have classroom objects readily available for the collaborative activity.
Display each items on the tray or document viewer, one at a time. Have students describe each item without naming the object in short written responses. Let them share responses with a partner, then share out with the group.
Tell students that they are describing the objects' characteristics, or properties. Review the states of matter with learners and tell them that because all of these objects are in the same state of matter (solid), it's necessary to use their properties in order to describe them and tell them apart.
Write the following vocabulary words on the board - matter, properties of matter, characteristics, width, height, length, and volume.
Play the video Hunting for Properties. After the video, ask students to turn to a partner and discuss what they learned from the video, including vocabulary. Note student definitions of the above terms on the board.
Have students walk around the classroom to view the arranged items. Have them choose two items without telling anyone what they have chosen, leaving the items in place.
After a few minutes, hand each student two index cards and tell students to choose two items that they observed. On each card, they will write descriptions of each item they have chosen. Encourage them to think about and possibly use words describing width, height, length, and volume. They should not write the name of the object.
For example, when describing a paintbrush, students may say:
"About 8 inches long"
"Straight on one side, soft on the other"
"Not heavy, very light"
Collect the index cards and shuffle them.
Put students in small groups and hand each group a set of 3-4 cards. Tell the students to use the descriptions to hunt for the objects.
As groups look for objects, provide guidance as needed. Take note of students who are using the descriptions versus simply guessing about what the objects are. If the group believes they have found the object, they can write the name on the other side of the sticky note.
Bring the class back together and invite groups to share their results. Have each group choose one card to share; see if the class (and the original writer) agree with their assessment of the object being described.
As a class, discuss which items were the easiest to identify and which ones were the trickiest. Which property came in handy (width/weight/length/etc.)?
- Review the cards collected to gauge student understanding of describing an object according to its properties.
- Use exit tickets to assess understanding of different properties of solid matter.
For English learners and students who may have difficulty understanding this concept, frontload vocabulary rather than having them find definitions in the video.
Allow students with ADHD and other attention difficulties to focus on the lesson by writing the index cards yourself ahead of time, and giving them more time on the hunt itself.
Challenge advanced learners to view objects that are more similar (pencil/pen, books of different weights, stuffed animals of different heights) and write a short paragraph rather than an exit ticket.