Lesson Plan

Physical Properties of Matter


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In this lesson, students will learn that all matter has physical properties through an activity based around water. Students will:

  • describe specific physical properties of all matter (density, viscosity, boiling point, freezing point, conductivity, malleability, ductility, surface tension, and color).

  • compare physical properties of water to all matter.

Essential Questions

Essential questions haven't been entered into the lesson plan.


  • Physical property: Physical properties are properties that can be observed or measured without changing the chemical makeup of the substance.

  • Viscosity: Viscosity describes a liquid’s resistance to flow.

  • Density: Density is a physical property that describes how much mass is in a specific volume.

  • Conductivity: Describes how well something conducts electricity.

  • Magnetism: Describes how matter responds to a magnetic field.

  • Boiling/melting/freezing point: The temperature at which a substance boils/melts/freezes.

  • Thermal expansion/contraction: Describes the change in volume as a substance is heated or cooled.

  • Distillation: A separation technique using boiling point.

  • Malleability: Capability to be shaped or molded.

  • Surface tension: A cohesive force between liquid molecules.

  • Ductility: The extent to which a material can be deformed plastically without fracturing.

  • Volatility: A measure of the tendency of a substance to evaporate.


90 minutes/2 class periods

Prerequisite Skills


  • tap water (2L)

  • ice cubes (6-8)

  • paper clips (10)

  • pennies (enough for entire class, working in small groups)

  • disposable pipettes (enough for entire class, working in small groups)

  • presentation board (i.e., whiteboard, interactive whiteboard)

  • distillation apparatus (glassware, water, and food coloring) or use the following link: http://www.saskschools.ca/curr_content/science10/unita/redon18.html

  • rubbing alcohol (isopropyl)

  • can of regular cola

  • can of diet cola

  • fish tank, partially filled with water

  • honey

  • conductivity apparatus

  • salt water (1L)

  • distilled water (1L)

  • metal samples for lab: zinc and iron

  • metal samples for lab (other than zinc or iron): most metals will work

  • pipettes for lab (8)

  • 10mL graduated cylinders (8)

  • magnets (8)

  • balances (1 or 2 for the class to share)

  • Physical Properties Lab–Student Version (S-8-5-1_Physical Properties Lab Student Version.doc)

  • Physical Properties Lab–Teacher Version (S-8-5-1_Physical Properties Lab Teacher Version.doc)

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