Source: D4K: “States of Matter"
Visit the D4K companion Web site to learn more about States of Matter: D4K: “States of Matter"
This video segment from IdahoPTV's D4K defines matter as anything that takes up space and has weight. You will see examples of different kinds of matter and learn that matter can have a physical change but not change its chemical make-up.
JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN: Anything that takes up space and has weight is called matter. When we say anything we mean it.
Your favorite food is matter, your bike is matter. You may not have noticed it but even your family’s favorite vacation spot is loaded with matter. It’s everywhere.
Matter can be as small as the tiniest cell in your skin or as large as the whole galaxy.
Matter is made up of atoms. Matter has weight or mass. Matter can also change from one form to another.
The study of matter and the changes it goes through is called physics. Matter comes in 4 states or phases: a solid, a liquid, a gas or plasma.
There is a 5th form called Bose-Einstein’s Condensates that only exists in laboratories.
So let’s first talk about solids.
Solids happen when the atoms of the matter are densely packed – just look around your house. Can you spot a solid, something that won’t change its shape when you touch it? Your bike or a television are both good examples of a solid.
How about the next state: liquid. Water, milk, juice. They’re all good examples. In a liquid the atoms aren’t as closely packed and matter takes on the shape of what’s around it, like water in a glass.
Next there are gasses. The atoms in gasses are spread out and bouncy. Gasses are invisible and have no shape. Unlike a liquid we can’t spill it and unlike a solid we can’t touch it. A gas like air is easiest to see when we fill up a balloon or watch the wind blow.
And then there’s plasma: it can be kind of tricky to spot but ask your parents or teacher if there’s a fluorescent light around.
If there is then you’ve found plasma. The light it makes is glowing plasma.
You can also see plasma when you look at stars. Stars are big balls of gasses at really high temperatures. The high temperatures charge up the atoms and create plasma.
So how does matter change from one phase to another? Well, you need to add energy.
Temperature is one of those physical forces that can change matter. By changing the temperature – either hot or cold – you’ve either added or subtracted energy. You’ve made a physical change in the matter.
But even if matter takes a different form, its chemical make-up doesn’t change. Take water for instance. It’s made up of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen – H2o.
If you heat it, it turns to steam. If you freeze it, water becomes ice. But what doesn’t change is what water is – h20. It’s still water.
The physical state of matter whether it’s a liquid or solid, a gas or plasma is a description of the state of its atoms.
Matter is large and matter is small. It has mass or weight and it can change form. It’s basically all the stuff around you. Without matter our world would be a much less interesting place to live.
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