# What Is Matter?: Properties and Classification of Matter Interactive Activity: 4-Question Survey

## 4-Question Survey: Matter

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:
College studentsI am a student. I attend:
College

I am a member of the general public

### Survey Question 1

An empty aluminum scuba tank weighs 30 pounds. Under everyday conditions, when the tank is filled with compressed air, its weight:

A. is the same as the empty tank.
B. is more than the empty tank.
C. depends on the outside air pressure.
D. is less than the empty tank.

### Survey Question 2

Which of the following would be considered “matter”?

A. helium
B. gravity
C. a light wave
D. heat

### Survey Question 3

3. Aristotle divided properties of matter into two categories, “accidental” and “essential,” and defined essential properties as ones that wouldn’t change when the matter was subdivided. Which of the following do you think Aristotle would consider an “essential property” of matter?

A. its length
B. its shape
C. its density
D. its weight

### Survey Question 4

Which of the following is a false statement about plasmas?

A. They make up a small percentage of the visible universe.
B. They are used in fluorescent lights and neon signs.
C. They are created when a gas is heated to very high temperatures or subjected to an electric current.
D. They are the so-called “fourth state of matter.

The correct answer is B: a tank filled with compressed air weighs more than an empty tank. Air is matter, and so by definition has weight and takes up space. Many people have the misconception that air is either weightless or will subtract weight from something that it fills. Others may be thrown off by answer c, believing that the outside air pressure might be great enough to “buoy” up the filled tank. Under everyday conditions, however, the effect of the outside air pressure on the weight of the tank is so small as to be negligible.

The correct answer is A: helium. Though it is a gas that is lighter than air, helium does take up space and have weight. Gravity is the name of the force that attracts bodies of matter towards each other. Light and heat are forms of energy and, like gravity, do not have weight and do not take up space.