Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science
Heat and Temperature Featured Classroom: Paula Proctor; Worcester, MA
Paula Proctor; Worcester, MA
“I want there to be a dialogue of science in this school. From my point of view as a facilitator that means that I am constantly looking for new ways to interact with teachers and students about science”
School at a Glance:
- Grades: PreK-6
- Enrollment: 661
- Students per Teacher: 15
9% African American
1% American Indian
- Percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch: 45% versus a state average of 28%
The Roosevelt School describes itself as “an environmentally-based health science academy.” Located about 40 miles from Boston, Worcester, Massachusetts, has the second-largest elementary educational system in the state.
Paula Proctor worked in the medical profession before getting her B.S. and becoming a teacher. She has been teaching in Worcester for the past 15 years and was the science facilitator at Roosevelt from the time the school opened in 2000 until recently when she was promoted to Assistant Principal. Paula is making an impact and proudly states, “I am happy to say I believe Worcester is in the forefront of making hands-on inquiry science available to all of our children.”
Lesson and Curriculum
Melting Point of Ice; Delta Science Modules
Lesson at a Glance:
Curriculum: Delta Science Modules “States of Matter”
Topic: Melting Point of Ice
During the two weeks prior to the lesson seen in the video, the students had been studying various kinds of energy transfer with their teacher Gina Robertson. In this lesson, Paula asks the students to put a thermometer in a glass of ice and take a reading. They then remove the thermometer from the ice and place it in a glass of warm water. As the students watch the volume of the red liquid in the thermometer expand, they speculate that it is because it has absorbed “heat energy” from the warm water. Paula comments, “First I wanted to develop the idea that the same amount of matter, which is that red liquid, can somehow occupy two different amounts of space, and why that’s happening.”
The students then return the thermometer to the glass of ice and observe the red liquid contract again. “I hope we can get them to see that it is happening because there is heat being transferred into the molecules of the red liquid when it is in the hot water, and the transfer is out of the hot red liquid when you put it in the cool water. So it goes the opposite way and suddenly the matter takes up less space,” said Paula.
Later, the students pour some of the warm water into the glass of ice and carefully observe the red liquid in the thermometer. From this experiment, they were able to notice that there is a moment just before the ice begins to melt in which the temperature of the water is the same temperature that the ice was. Paula remarks, “This lesson is about the melting point of ice but, in actuality, what I am looking for is for them to develop ideas about the effect of energy on the change of state of matter, and the effect on the motion of molecules when energy comes in contact or transfers in or out of a state of matter, whatever that might be.”
Session 1 What Is Matter?: Properties and Classification of Matter
What is matter? This question at first seems deceptively simple — matter is all around us. Yet how do we define it? What does a block of cheese have in common with the Moon? What are the characteristics of matter that set it apart from something that is definitely not matter? Matter is one of the big ideas in science. Most areas in physical science can be discussed and explained in terms of matter or energy, and matter is a subject that naturally bridges to the other sciences (chemistry, life, earth science, etc.). In this session, we’ll build a working definition of matter, learn to distinguish between its “accidental” and “essential” properties, and explore it through classification, an activity with a rich history in science.
Session 2 The Particle Nature of Matter: Solids, Liquids, and Gases
What simple idea links together all of chemistry and physics? How can a close study of the macroscopic differences among solids, liquids, and gases support a microscopic model of tiny, discrete, and constantly moving particles? In this session, participants learn how the "particle model" can be turned into a powerful tool for generating predictions about the behavior of matter under a wide range of conditions.
Session 3 Physical Changes and Conservation of Matter
What happens when sugar is dissolved in a glass of water or when a pot of water on the stove boils away? Do things ever really "disappear?" In everyday life, observations that things "disappear" or "appear" seem to contradict one of the fundamental laws of nature: matter can be neither created nor destroyed. In this session, participants learn how the principles of the particle model are consistent with conservation of matter.
Session 4 Chemical Changes and Conservation of Matter
How can the particle model account for what happens when two clear liquids are mixed together and they produce a milky-white solid? What happens when iron rusts? Where do the elements come from? In this session, participants extend the particle model by looking inside the particles, learn about some early chemical pioneers, and in the process discover how the law of conservation of matter applies even at the scale of atoms and molecules.
Session 5 Density and Pressure
What makes a block of wood rise to the surface of a bucket of water? Why do your ears pop when you swim deep underwater? In this session, participants examine density, an essential property of matter. They also look at how particles of matter are in constant motion, which leads to a deeper understanding of fluid pressure. Lastly, the concepts of pressure and density are investigated to explain the macroscopic phenomenon of rising and sinking.
Session 6 Rising and Sinking
Why does a hot air balloon rise into the sky? Why does ice rise in water, when a lump of solid wax will sink in a jar full of molten wax? In this session, participants generalize the model that has been developed about what rises and what sinks, using the idea of balance of forces.
Session 7 Heat and Temperature
What makes the liquid in a thermometer rise or fall in response to temperature? Which contains more heat — a boiling teakettle on the stove or a swimming pool of lukewarm water? In this session, participants focus on the difference between heat and temperature, and examine how both are defined in terms of particles. The particle model is then used to explain a number of everyday phenomena, from why things expand when they are heated to the role that temperature plays in changes of state.
Sessions 8 Extending the Particle Model of Matter
In this session, participants extend their understanding of the particle model to explain additional macroscopic phenomena, including the electrical properties of matter. Participants review the progression of ideas covered in the course and anticipate future developments in the understanding of matter.