Solids, liquids and gases

Banana hammers and soft nails

Supports National Curriculum, Key Stages 1 and Units 2D, 3C, 4D, 5C, 5D, 6D
Suitable for years 4,5 and 6.

The time for whole session is about 1 hour. This can be varied by taking shorter paths through the material. Choices may depend on the apparatus available or the particular needs of the class.

Outline of content
Aims to:

  • Establish what the children already know, through a class activity
  • Develop an appreciation of the difference in temperature between 0˚C and 30˚C
  • Extend their understanding of high and low temperatures so that they understand the liquid nitrogen is very cold indeed
  • Find out about changes from liquids to gases
  • Find out that cooling materials can cause them to change
  • Find out about changes from liquids to solids
  • Discover that some changes are reversible changes

Points to note:
Liquid nitrogen is hazardous. When planning this visit, contact your local source of liquid nitrogen and ask for a practice session with an experienced user. Please read the notes about safety and agree the assessment with the teacher before the session! Children should be at least two metres from the demonstrations and must not sit on the floor for this presentation.

  • Detailed instructions for the activities are provided.
  • Apparatus details are listed and linked to the relevant sections.
  • Pictures are provided for the rope activity.
  • A temperature range summary is provided in a PowerPoint file for projection or it can be drawn onto a black or white board.
  • There is a video animation for use with Activity 5.
  • Vocabulary: The presentation uses mainly expressions included in the KS 1 and 2 strategies

Misconceptions to be corrected:

  • Liquids cannot be very cold
  • True gases (like air) cannot be liquefied.
  • Boiling can only occur at hot temperatures.
  • Temperatures can be lowered indefinitely.

Feedback from teachers after the trial visits:
“The material and methods used engaged the pupils in highly productive learning which was vivid and relevant to the QCA schemes of work followed.”

“The pupils were challenged appropriately in this imaginative, effective and thought provoking session.”

“The children were interested and engaged throughout the session.”

“The session enabled them to grasp the basics of the subject and develop a greater understanding, thereby gaining a higher grade in the end of unit test.”

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