This activity exploring states of matter with water, ice, and steam was done as part of our unit covering states of matter.
The point of this activity was to show my kids how matter can change states from solid to liquid to gas. Further, I wanted them to learn that temperature is a major factor causing matter to change from one state to another. Water, or more accurately H20, can be easily made to change states at temperatures commonly found in the home, so I decided to use H20 as the tool for exploring these concepts.
Note: For more activities about matter, please see my states of matter unit study page.
I want to first start with a word of caution. Kids should ALWAYS be closely supervised around the stove and other hot objects. Please use good judgement and your knowledge of your kids to determine if and when this activity would be safe for them.
I started this activity by taking some ice of our freezer. The kids knew exactly what it was, of course. We talked about the fact that ice is a solid because it has a definite shape, volume, and mass. (I had previously done an introduction to states of matter, so they were already familiar with these terms.)
I then asked them to make a hypothesis (yes, I used the scientific word) about what would happen if we put the ice in a pot and turned on the heat. They made their predictions. Then I put the ice in the pot.
I turned on the heat.
And it wasn’t long before the ice had completely melted. (The pot was warm but not hot in the picture below. Please use good judgement to keep your kids safe from burns.)
We talked about the fact that the solid ice had turned into liquid water. We discussed why this had happened – specifically, that with an increase in temperature, the solid (ice) had turned into a liquid (water).
Next, I put the pan back on the stove and turned on the heat again. It wasn’t long before the water started boiling.
We watched as steam rose into the air. And we watched as the water starting disappearing from the pot.
Once the pot was completely dry and devoid of water, we talked about how the steam was a gas. And we discussed how the liquid had turned into a gas due to an increase in temperature. All in all, this became a very concrete way for my kids to observe changes in states of matter and learn about the role of temperature in causing changes in states of matter.
More resources for learning about states of matter
More states of matter posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Introduction to states of matter
- Books about states of matter
- Balloon magic with baking soda
- Dancing raisins science demonstration
- Melting candle wax to explore states of matter
- Exploring air pressure