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        How Structure Can Affect Properties Through Phase Changes

        Structure-Property Relationships

        Lesson Summary


        Middle school students will discuss how changing the structure of atoms and molecules can change the properties of a substance after watching videos and filling out worksheets. Students can brainstorm and review their own examples of phase change with the help of a phase change diagram. The idea of technology that can change the structure of materials will be introduced. An extension activity on buckyballs is available.

        Content Objectives

        Students will know that

        • molecular arrangement determines physical characteristics
        • phases are physical properties
        • why changing the structure of the molecule changes the properties of a substance

        Process Objectives

        Students will be able to

        • describe the molecular arrangement of various substances
        • explain the structural changes occurred by a water molecule during phase changes
        • label a diagram showing the phase changes of water

        Assessment Strategies

        • Completion of video review questions
        • Completion of the vocabulary worksheet
        • Construction of phase diagram and explanation

        Grade Level: 6-8

        Suggested Time

        About an hour

        Multimedia Resources



        Part I: Introduction to how structure can affect properties (30 minutes)

        1. Explain to the students that changing the structure of atoms and molecules can change the properties of the substance.

        2. Pass out the

        Structure-Property Relationships Worksheet PDF Document

        Ask students to fill in the answers to Part 1 of the worksheet after they watch the videos and review

        Studysheet How Structure Affects Properties PDF Document

        3. Show the video

        Structure and Property Changes of Water QuickTime Video

        (1 minute 5 seconds).

        4. Review the answers to Part 1 of the worksheet with the students.

        Part II: Completing the 'Phase Change Diagram' (10 minutes)

        5. Hand out the

        Phase Change Diagram Worksheet PDF Document

        Have students work on completing the diagram

        6. Review the diagram with the class by projecting it as an overhead.

        7. Hold a discussion about some of the examples that students brainstormed. Focus on how the properties of the substance changed during the phase change.

        8. Show the video

        Atomic Arrangements in Solids QuickTime Video

        (1 minute 30 seconds).

        Part III: Changes in structure other than phase changes (5 minutes)

        9. Explain that structure changes are caused by phase changes. We can also change the structure using new technology.

        Part IV: Extension

        10. Have students explore Buckyballs. This is another structural change of carbon. Students can explore how the atoms were rearranged and what different properties are exhibited. Students can also explore the difference between crystalline structures, where atoms are arranged in a set pattern, and amorphous structures, where atoms are not arranged in set patterns. Have students compare and contrast the properties of crystals like quart, salt, and diamonds, with the properties of amorphous solids like glass and silly putty. How does the structure affect the properties of each?


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