Measuring and Comparing Matter
In this physical science lab activity, students will measure a variety of different materials from the classroom to determine how much matter is found in these materials. Using the same volume for each type of material they investigate, students will determine the mass of these materials by using an elementary balance. The data (the masses of the different materials) will be compiled in graph form and analyzed to determine which materials contain more matter. The investigative results will be shared with other classmates using a gallery approach as students walk around the room looking at other students' graphs and charts. Students will then draw conclusions from the data about mass, volume, and density during a class discussion and write about their findings in a science journal.
- Use numerical data to measure, describe, and compare physical properties of matter
- Conduct tests, compare data, and draw conclusions about mass, volume, and density and their relationship to matter.
Key vocabulary words include: matter, mass, volume, and density.
Context for Use
Grades 3-5; groups of 2-3
A measuring balance is needed for each group of students.
Students should already know the characteristics of matter, what mass is, and how mass is used to decide if something has matter.
This activity is used to initiate a lesson on how matter can be measured and compared.
Description and Teaching Materials
Teacher guided questions:
- Which objects had the greatest mass?
- Which objects had the least mass?
- What kinds of objects had the most mass? What can you conclude about the materials that make up these objects?
- What kinds of objects had the least mass? What can you conclude about the materials that make up these objects?
Teaching Notes and Tips
- How do you measure the mass of an object?
- How can you determine the amount of matter in an object?
- What kinds of materials contain more matter?
- What kinds of relationships did you see between the different kinds of materials that the class measured?