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Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science

Physical Changes and Conservation of Matter Children’s Ideas About Conservation of Matter

Children’s Ideas About Conservation of Matter

Below are common ideas children in grades K-6 have about this topic, compiled from research on children’s ideas about science. Consider what evidence might refute this idea, and why a child would be likely to believe this? Once you’ve entered all your answers you can click “printable page” at the bottom of this form to print your answers. You can also click “see possible response” for any question to see one possible response from the series content advisors.

1. When matter changes state, there is a change in weight.

Children don’t often have the empirical evidence for conservation of matter through changes of state. In a closed system, there is no loss of mass when, for example, water changes to ice or steam.

2. In a mixture like sand and water, a new substance has been formed.

Children don’t often have a grasp of the particle model and may not have experienced the separation of mixtures that is possible through filtration and evaporation.

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Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science

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

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