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        The Structure of Materials

        Structure of matter.

        Lesson Summary


        High school students will view short clips on matter, atoms, and atomic bonding, and complete answer sheets on what they have learned. They will pair up to participate in an activity called "Building a Glass of Water" in which they will build water molecules with marshmallows and toothpicks. Then they will view more clips that introduce the relationship of matter to nanoscience. Extension activities include making table salt and discussing a newsreel about the Hindenburg disaster.

        Content Objectives

        Students will know

        • the definition of matter, volume, and mass
        • that matter is composed of atoms
        • the parts of an atom
        • basic properties of the subatomic particles which make up an atom
        • basic bonding characteristics

        Process Objectives

        Students will be able to

        • describe the structure of an atom
        • illustrate an atom and its various components
        • construct molecular models demonstrating basic atomic bonding
        • explain similarities and differences between different atoms

        Grade Level: 9-12

        Suggested Time

        About an hour

        Multimedia Resources



        Part I: Basics of Matter and Atoms

        1. Students should view What is Matter? QuickTime Video (1 minute 16 seconds) and What is a Molecule? QuickTime Video (28 seconds) videos

        2. Students should complete Part I of the

        Structure of Materials Worksheet PDF Document

        They will need a computer to view the

        Periodic Table PDF Document

        (5-10 minutes).

        Part II: Basics of Atomic Bonding

        3. Students should view What Holds a Molecule Together? QuickTime Video (57 seconds)

        4. Students should complete Part II of the

        Structure of Materials Worksheet PDF Document

        (10-15 minutes).

        Part III: Building a Glass of Water

        5. Students should pair up. Pass 1 marshmallow, 2 gummy bears, and 2 toothpicks to each pair. Each pair of students should then construct a model of a water molecule (2 minutes).

        6. Teacher should then direct each pair of students to bond their water molecule to another group’s water molecule. Teacher should then direct that pair of molecules to bond with another pair of molecules (2 minutes).

        7. Teacher should then place all of the bonded water molecules into a large transparent container (large 10000 mL beaker will work). Teacher can then lead a discussion about this “glass of water” (2-5 minutes).

        8. Students should then complete Part III of the

        Structure of Materials Worksheet PDF Document

        (5-10 minutes).

        Part IV: Extension 1

        9. Some of the students can make table salt (NaCl) using the other food products as the sodium and chlorine atoms.

        10. The students can then put the water molecules and the salt molecules into the beaker representing salt water.

        11. Teacher can then lead a discussion: When salt and water are put together in a beaker, do the salt and water retain their properties? Is the salt bonded to the water? What is this called?

        Part V: Extension 2

        12. Students can view the

        Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel QuickTime Video

        (5 minutes 26 seconds) and discuss theories of what happened to cause the explosion.


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