Curriculum

How Can We Identify Materials Based on Their Properties?

How Can We Identify Materials Based on Their Properties?

How Can We Identify Materials Based on Their Properties? is part of Smithsonian Science for the Classroom, a brand-new curriculum series by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It is aligned to a group of grade 5 standards. It has a focus on physical science with a secondary focus on life science. In this module, students:

  • Compare six solids using just senses and argue from evidence that sugar and cornstarch are made by plants
  • Draw models to show that the dissolving of sugar in water and the evaporation of a sugar solution can be explained by very small particles
  • Obtain information from a text to explain that salt is added to roads in the winter to lower the freezing point of water
  • Carry out an investigation to show that mixing solids with vinegar and iodine can result in something new being formed
  • Graph weight before and after mixing to show that in any change the weight remains the same
  • Argue from evidence that four unknown solids can be identified based on their properties

Below are digital resources that support teaching of this module.

Lesson 4: Sugar Water

Hummingbird
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This video shows a hummingbird drinking a sugar solution from a feeder.

Lesson 5: What We Can’t See

Particle Models
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This file includes directions for drawing particle models for dissolving and evaporation and for using them to make predictions.

Lesson 5: What We Can’t See

Sugar Simulation
This simulation shows what happens to particles when sugar dissolves in water and water evaporates. It works best in Firefox or Chrome. If your default browser is not one of these, copy the URL and paste it into either Firefox or Chrome. This simulation may not work on all mobile devices so it recommended that you use it on a computer. Start by adding water. Add sugar. Evaporate to see the amount of water in the air change. Evaporate so there is no water left in the beaker to see the particles of solid sugar. 

Lesson 8: Melting and Freezing Points

Salting Roads
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This video shows a road being salted in the winter.

Lesson 10: Making Something New

Muffins Rising
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This video showing muffins baking in the oven.

Lesson 11: Change Is All Around Us

Elodea
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This video shows bubbles of a gas coming from an Elodea plant underwater. This video has sound so speakers are recommended.

Lesson 12: A Weighty Matter

Iodine and Cornstarch Class Graph
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This file is for projecting onto a white board or chart paper.

Lesson 13: Kitchen Crisis Part 1

Kitchen Crisis
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This file introduces the science challenge.

Lesson 13: Kitchen Crisis Part 1

Flow Charts
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This file includes two examples of flow charts.

Lesson 14: Kitchen Crisis Part 2

Kitchen Crisis
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This file shows the sample numbers from each jar of unknown solid.

Lesson 14: Kitchen Crisis Part 2

Comic Template
This website includes sample comics and a comic strip template developed by the Smithsonian. Download the Blank Comic Template with border boxes file.

Lesson 15: Kitchen Crisis Part 3

Kitchen Crisis
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This file gives students instructions for preparing their poster.

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