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Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science

Extending the Particle Model of Matter Interactive Activity: 5-Question Survey

5-Question Survey: Reviewing the Previous Sessions

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
 College


I am a member of the general public


Survey Question 1

Some sugar is dissolved in a beaker of water. What would a scientist say happened to the sugar?

 A. The sugar reacted chemically with the water to form a new substance, sugar-water.
 B. The particles of sugar spread out in the water.
 C. The sugar was destroyed; only the taste is left.
 D. The solid sugar particles turned into a liquid.
E. The sugar particles were torn apart by energy released by the water molecules.


Survey Question 2

A person claims that diamonds and the graphite in an ordinary pencil are made of the same basic material. A scientist’s response would be that the claim is:

 A. False. The two substances are too different to be made of the same basic material.
 B. False. Every substance is unique; no two substances are made of the same basic material.
 C. This question cannot be answered with the information given.
 D. True. Diamond and graphite look different only because their basic material is arranged differently.
E. True. Diamond and graphite are held together by different substances, causing the differences.


Survey Question 3

A night shift worker in a grocery store stacks bread five loaves high on the shelves. The next morning, a person shopping for bread sees the stacked loaves and notices that:

 A. all five loaves in a stack are equally “squished.”
 B. the bottom loaf in each stack is squished, but not those above it.
 C. only the top loaf is not squished; the other four are equally squished.
 D. all loaves but the top one are squished, the bottom loaf the most.
E. only the middle loaf is squished.


Survey Question 4

A glass of cold water on a hot day forms a coat of water on the outside of the glass. How does most of the water get there?

 A. Water evaporates from the glass and condenses on the outside of the glass.
 B. The glass allows the water to pass through it.
 C. Water vapor condenses from the air on the outside of the glass.
 D. The coldness causes oxygen and hydrogen from the air combine on the glass to form water.
E. Some water creeps up over the edge of the glass and drips down the sides.


Survey Question 5

Two astronauts are sealed inside a test chamber. One of them is celebrating his birthday and is given a cake with forty lit candles. What do you think will happen to the test chamber after the astronaut blows out the candles and the chamber is filled with smoke?

 A. The test chamber will get lighter by a tiny amount.
 B. The test chamber will get heavier by a tiny amount.
 C. The test chamber will stay exactly the same weight.
 D. The test chamber will first get lighter and then heavier.
E. There is not enough information to answer the question.


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: The particles of sugar spread out in the water. Dissolving is a physical change, meaning that the particles are merely rearranged, and not changed into a new substance, or torn apart. The particles spread out into the water, but are not classified as a liquid because they are no longer directly touching each other.

Answer 2

The answer is D: True. Diamond and graphite look different only because their basic material is arranged differently. Both graphite and diamond are a form of the element carbon although their macroscopic properties are different due to the differing arrangement of particles. The forces between particles are the same, but the assembly of graphite and diamond from carbon takes place under different conditions of temperature and pressure, leading to different macroscopic properties.

Answer 3

The answer is D: all loaves but the top one are squished, the bottom loaf the most. Each loaf of bread feels the weight of all the loaves above it. The top loaf does not feel any force from above, the middle loaf bears the weight of two loaves and the bottom loaf bears the weight of four loaves. Thus, the “squished-ness” increases as you go to the bottom of the stack. You may recall from Session 5 that pressure in a liquid increases with depth: a liquid at a given depth feels the weight of all the particles of liquid above it.

Answer 4

The answer is C: Water vapor condenses from the air on the outside of the glass. Although some water does evaporate from the glass, the water vapor in the air is the only water that gets really close to the outside surface of the glass. The fast moving water molecules in the water vapor collide with the slower moving molecules of the surface of the glass and transfer some of their energy of motion. These now slowed-down water molecules stay behind, and the forces between them are strong enough to pull and hold them together. The macroscopic result is the condensation of water on the outside of the glass.

Answer 5

The answer is C: The test chamber will stay exactly the same weight. While the smoke is a new, irreversible product of the combustion of the wicks of the candles, because of the principle of conservation of matter, no mass is lost or gained in the chamber.

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Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science

Credits

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

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