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States of Matter Interactive Simulation

Author: PhET Interactive Simulations
Grades: 6th, 7th, 8th
Subjects: Science, Chemistry, Physics
Resource Type:
  • Interactive Media
Synopsis
  • This interactive simulation provides students with an opportunity to explore the three states of matter and their properties. 
  • Students can change the temperature, pressure, and volume of a gas, and observe corresponding phase changes through animated diagrams.
  • Students can also explore interaction strength between atoms with the Lennard-Jones potential graph.

Teaching Tips

Positives

  • This resource allows students to practice self-efficacy by changing the states of matter themselves.
  • There are both animations and graphical simulations, and the simplicity allows for a wide range of lessons at different skill levels.
  • Teachers should focus on Phase Changes since it allows for exploration of both pressure, temperature, and volume on states of matter. 
  • A great resource for virtual or blended learning lab classes. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • PhET can run on Windows Systems (Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Google Chrome) and Macintosh Systems (macOS 10.13+, Safari 13+), preferably on the most updated browsers. Android and Linux systems are not officially supported. Browser extensions may need to be disabled if issues arise.
  • Teachers will need to prepare specific instructions on how to engage with the simulation to maximize learning.

Differentiation

  • This activity can introduce younger students to the states of matter and challenge older students to visualize the same in chemistry and physics.
  • For virtual learning, teachers can provide guiding questions and then let students explore on their own.
  • This simulation could be explored individually or in groups depending on the availability of devices.

Scientist Notes
This interactive simulator is appropriate for students to navigate to gain insights on process of state of matter. The simulator is up-to-date and the iteration process is valid. Thus, this resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
      • MS-PS1-4 Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • PS3: Energy
      • MS-PS3-2 Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.

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