Teacher Portal

Properties of Matter: Investigation 1 –

Concept Day









Italicized font represents information to be shared orally or physically completed with the students at this time.

The non-italicized font represents additional information included to support the teacher’s understanding of the content being introduced within the CELL.


Explain to students that by observing a sample of matter and measuring its chemical and physical properties, we gradually acquire enough information to characterize it and distinguish it from other kinds of matter. This is the first step in the development of chemical science, in which interest is focused on specific types of matter.


Explain to students that chemical technicians use the principles and theories of chemistry and mathematics to help invent and improve products. A chemical technician might evaluate a new food additive to find out if it improves the texture of a breakfast cereal or test ingredients in order to help develop a new tearless baby shampoo.


Use your browser to download a printable PDF as a help during the slide presentation and to make additional notes. In your browser, go to File > Print and then choose to save as PDF.


Once the slide presentation is launched

  • use your left and right arrows to advance or go back in the slide presentation, and
  • hover your mouse over the left edge of the presentation to get a view of the thumbnails for all the slides so that you can quickly move anywhere in the presentation.
  • Click HERE to launch the slide presentation for the CELL.





Note: During the course of this presentation we wish to establish the definition of matter and the relationship between matter, elements, atoms, molecules and compounds. This hierarchy sometimes confuses students.

  • Matter is anything that takes up space (has volume) and has mass.
  • Matter is composed of elements.
  • There are 118 elements
  • Atoms are the smallest particle that an element can be broken down to and still have all the characteristics and properties of that element.
  • Molecules are what you get when two or more atoms combine. This might be two or more of the same element like H2, O2, or a pure metal (Au, Ag, Cu).
  • A compound is a molecule that simply contains more than one kind of atom.




  • Tell students that everything EVERYWHERE that has volume and mass is composed of matter.

Note: The weights at the bottom are masses students will be familiar within LabLearner by grade 6.

  • Explain to students that as we move from the entire Earth into the solar system and the entire Universe, everything is composed of matter.
  • Tell students that human beings are also 100% composed of matter.
  • Ask students to suggest other things made of matter.


Read the terms to the students.

    • Note: Do not worry about explaining the layout of the Periodic Table. For now it is simply a chart of the known elements.

      • Point out several elements students may have heard of or find some they ask about.
      • Use the Periodic Table to point out some of the elements that students will come in contact in Lab such as copper, aluminum, and calcium.

      Note: The table below is for your reference. The information within it can be used for enrichment.

    SLIDE POM6-1-4

    • Explain to students that elements, such as oxygen, are composed of smaller, subatomic particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons.  
      • Note: Students are not expected to know the terms protons, neutrons, and electrons in this CELL. They are placed here for enrichment purposes and to help students understand the hierarchy of matter.

        Note: Every atom contains a “nucleus” containing the same number of the subatomic particles protons and neutrons in most cases. These are surrounded by a cloud of electrons that are present in the same number as protons as well.

        Note: The number of protons gives us the atomic number on the Periodic Table of the Elements – there are 8 in the case of oxygen. Also notice that the number of protons plus electrons give us the approximate “molecular weight” of the element as shown below its symbol on the Periodic Table.

        • Tell students that this slide uses two atoms of oxygen to build an oxygen molecule (O2).
        • Tell students that this slide also depicts a compound (H2O) to demonstrate the difference between a molecule and a compound.

        Note: A compound is also a molecule, but a special class because it is composed of more than one kind of element. Many, many molecules in the Universe are compounds.

        Note: We will use this slide again in Investigation 2, at which time we will introduce an identical slide but for sulfur instead of oxygen.

      SLIDE POM6-1-5

      Note: Students will be examining various compounds in the lab throughout this CELL. In Investigation 1, they will be asked to examine samples and record observations about their physical characteristics.

      • Discuss the definition of a physical property and the examples listed on the left.
      • Explain that there are other physical properties not listed here, but these are common.
      • Point out that the cube on the right is shown with a few physical properties one might list to describe it.

      Note: Physical properties are typically adjectives. Therefore in lab make sure students include many words to describe their unknown samples as it is not only good practice for developing scientific observational skills, but also for descriptive vocabulary use as well!

      SLIDE POM6-1-6

      • Note: This slide simply illustrates a triple beam balance that will be used in lab as a refresher. Grade 6 LabLearner students will be familiar with this instrument.

        • Remind students that we measure and report mass using a triple beam balance.
        • Remind students that we measure and report mass in metric units of grams.

      SLIDE POM6-1-7

      • Review with students the mathematical formula and volume displacement methods of determining volume.
        • Tell students that they will use both methods in this Investigation.
          • Note: In Pre-Lab, the volume displacement method is shown in the video, but take time to be sure students understand the concept here.

            Note: Students may be familiar with the concept of volume displacement by seeing the water level rise as they step into a bathtub or put too many ice cubes in a soft drink, causing it to overflow.