The States of Matter Concept Builder is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Concept Builder can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

We're going to be honest: we do Physics. That's why this is called The Physics Classroom website. And when we do the Teacher's Notes section for our Concept Builders, we typically have a lot to say ... and a lot of resources to point you to. We're not claiming to be ignorant of chemistry; we just don't have a lot of resources here at The Physics Classroom to point you to. And so this page is going to be a lot shorter than our usual page that accompanies our Physics Concept Builders. That's our honest confession.

Most of us Chemistry teachers spend time at some point in the course discussing the distinguishing characteristics of solids, liquids, and gases. And those discussions usually give some attention to the particle view of solids, liquids, and gases. Macroscopic properties such as rigidity, density, and fluidity are typically explained in terms of the particle view of the three states of matter. This Concept Builder is designed to target such understandings. 

The Concept Builder consists of three distinct and independent activities. Those three activities are described as follows:
  • Who Am I?: Question Groups 1-8 ... Each question presents three contrasting properties of solids, liquids, and gases. Students must identify each property as one of these three states of matter.
  • Changes of State: Question Group 9 ... This multi-part question presents a graphic displaying these three states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) and the six possible transitions between them. Students must identify the name of each transitions. The names used are melting, freezing, vaporization, condensation, sublimation, and deposition.
  • Heating Curves: Question Groups10-17 ... Each question includes a heating curve graphic. The diagonals and plateaus are labeled with a letter. A question is presented below the graphic and students must answer the questions by tapping on various parts of the interface. Questions and question types vary from multiple choice to multiple select to matching. 
The questions are shown on a separate page (viewable by logged-in teachers only). Teachers are encouraged to view the questions in order to judge which activities are most appropriate for their classes and what level of preparation would be required. We recommend doing the activities in order. There is no redundancy in the actvitiies. While they are independent activities, they have been designed to be scaffolded such that one activity builds on the previous activity.

Like all our Concept Builders, this Concept Builder utilizes a variety of strategies to make each student's experience different. The ordering of questions is random. And the Question number assigned to each question is scrambled. For instance, two side-by-side students will not have the same question for question number three. And where it seemed feasible, questions are organized into "groups" with questions within the same group being very similar but not identical. 

The Concept Builder also keeps track of student progress. It requires that students demonstrate a mastery of questions in each Question Group. In order to complete an activity, a student must correctly analyze each question of that activity. If a student's analysis is incorrect, then the student will have to correctly analyze the other questions in the Question Group (if they exist) or answer the originally-missed question twice in order to successfully complete the activity. This approach provides the student extra practice on questions for which they exhibited difficulty. As a student progresses through an activity, a system of stars and other indicators are used to indicate progress on the activity. Progress is displayed in the progress report on the right side of the Concept Builder. A star indicates a demonstration of mastery. A question with a red background indicates that the student has missed the question. And a question with a yellow background means that the student must get one more question from that Question Group correctly answered in order to obtain a star. When an activity is completed, the student will be awarded a Trophy. This Trophy is displayed on the Main Menu screen. These strategies make the Concept Builder an ideal addition to the 1:1 classroom and other settings in which computers are readily available. 

The most valuable (and most overlooked) aspect of this Concept Builder is the Help Me! feature. Each question group is accompanied by a Help page that discusses the specifics of the question. This Help feature transforms the activity from a question-answering activity into a concept-building activity. The student who takes the time to use the Help pages can be transformed from a guesser to a learner and from an unsure student to a confident student. The "meat and potatoes" of the Help pages are in the sections titled "How to Think About This Situation:" Students need to be encouraged by teachers to use the Help Me! button and to read this section of the page. A student that takes time to reflect upon how they are answering the question and how an expert would think about the situation can transform their naivete into expertise. 


Concept Builder || Questions  (For Teachers Only)


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