Friday, October 5, 2012

Popcorn Lab

Frozen "solid" of shortening and kernels
 The purpose of the popcorn lab was for the kids to have a visual example of what atoms look/behave like in all three states of matter. We began with a frozen "solid" of shortening with kernels (our atoms) packed in it.  The atoms are tightly packed in, and aren't moving. Then I challenged the kids to, without opening the bag, make their solid a liquid by adding thermal energy. They quickly figured out rubbing the solid was the fastest way to do this. After the solid became a liquid, we observed the atoms and noticed they were looser, not all touching, and moved around in our bag. Finally, I took a solid out of its bag and placed it in a beaker on a hot plate. We quickly got to see the solid changing states. As more and more thermal energy (heat) was added, the atoms finally became so energized they couldn't be contained in the beaker any longer and tried to escape. We kept this from happening with the foil.

After we finished our investigation, we discussed why these things happened to our atoms. The thermal energy gives the atoms so much energy, the result is the atoms becoming more and more active. This causes the change in states. We also discussed what this would look like if we removed thermal energy and went in reverse.
The solid beginning to melt
Liquid form
Student journal sheet page 1
Our "gas"

Student journal sheet page 2
Student journal sheet page 3