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Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science

Chemical Changes and Conservation of Matter Interactive Activity: 5-Question Survey

5-Question Survey: Chemical Change

The series of questions presented in this activity will help you find out your ideas or your students’ ideas about matter. As highlighted in this video series, when we articulate our misconceptions, we are taking the first step to rectifying them.

Surveying is one of many educational strategies that teachers can use to elicit ideas. Even a brief survey, such as the one presented next, can provide a learning opportunity for students and teachers alike. Students can reveal their misconceptions for the first time as well as open their minds to accepting scientific points of view. Teachers can form a basis for making instructional decisions, whether to validate students’ correct yet unsure ideas, confront student misconceptions, reinforce ideas that are forming, or complement ideas that are accurate but only partial explanations.

Before you complete the survey, please identify who you are (pick just one):

I am a teacher. I instruct:
 Grades K-2
 Grades 3-6
 Grades 7-12
 College students

I am a student. I attend:
 Grades K-2
 Grades 3-6
 Grades 7-12

I am a member of the general public

Survey Question 1

Which of the following processes is not an example of a chemical change?

 A. combustion
 B. evaporation
 C. rusting
 D. fermentation

Survey Question 2

Complete the following: Element is to atom as ______

 A. mixture is to particle.
 B. molecule is to compound.
 C. compound is to molecule.
 D. solution is to molecule.

Survey Question 3

3. Two different clear liquids are mixed together in a beaker, and a white-colored solid is formed. The total amount of matter that now exists in the beaker is:

 A. greater than before because a new substance was formed.
 B. less than before because some matter was destroyed.
 C. less than before because some matter was turned into energy.
D. the same as before.

Survey Question 4

4. Forty-five grams of vinegar and five grams of baking soda are combined in a cup on a scale. After 10 minutes, the scale reads only forty-eight grams. The change in mass is the result of:

 A. a gas being produced and escaping into the air.
 B. a gas being produced and causing the cup to float.
 C. the baking soda disappearing in the vinegar.
D. the containers interacting with the vinegar and baking soda.

Survey Question 5

5. Separating water into hydrogen and oxygen is _____

 A. impossible.
 B. an example of a physical change.
 C. achieved by passing an electric current through it, splitting the molecules apart.
D. achieved by subjecting it to temperatures far beyond its boiling point.

Now that you’ve completed the survey, make sure to read the closer looks, if you haven’t already, to learn more about these topics.

Answer 1

The answer is B: evaporation. Evaporation involves only one substance, and the particles of the substance are the same whether in liquid or gas phase. All other processes result in the creation of different particles from those initially present.

Answer 2

The answer is C: compound is to molecule. An element is a pure substance with the fundamental particle being called an atom. Similarly, a compound is a pure substance with the fundamental particle being called a molecule. Both a mixture and a solution are not pure substances because they are made of at least two different kinds of particles.

Answer 3

The answer is D: the same as before. Any chemical change is still subject to the law of conservation of matter. Particles may be torn apart and rearranged, but no atoms are created or destroyed, so the mass is conserved.

Answer 4

The correct answer is A: a gas being produced and escaping into the air. Because this system is not “closed” (i.e., all parts are captured and measured), the escaping gas floats away into the air and is no longer registered on the scale.

Answer 5

The answer is C: achieved by passing an electric current through it, splitting the molecules apart. Because hydrogen and oxygen are different substances from water, this process is not a physical change. In the video for this session, we saw an electric current used to rearrange the molecules of water into new molecules of hydrogen and oxygen.

Series Directory

Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science


Produced by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. 2004.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-749-5