August 12, 2010

More Particle Motion!

Particle motion has been one of my favorite things to teach since way back when I was a student teacher!  Love it!  Can't get enough of it!  In fact, all of the pictures in my teacher's portfolio are of me teaching particle motion because I'm at my most impressive when I'm teaching something that's actually fun.  Particle motion qualifies, to the highest degree, as fun in learning!  Want to see some dorky old teaching pictures?  I do!
 Getting kids up to act out particle motion at different temps is one of my favorite activities.  I remember the seasoned teachers begging me not to do this with these 6th graders, insisting that if I let them get up and bump into each other on purpose, the room would break out into uncontrollable chaos!  Well, they loved it, appreciated getting up for a few minutes, and no one got sent to the nurse as a result!  Here's where you can see the video of us doing this at home!

Okay, onto particle motion activities that I haven't posted on yet!

You can visually show how the particles are moving faster in warm water than in cold by getting 2 cups of water, one hot and one cold, and doing this fun little demonstration.  Have the kids feel each glass before you start so they can feel the temp difference!
Look!  I even made the 6th grader feel the water way back then!

Then you add a few drops of food coloring to each glass and watch.  Note the speed with which the color spreads through the water.  You can also buy these purple crystals from the pharmacist (can't recall what they're called, but if you ask for the purple powder crystals for science class, I guarantee they'll know exactly what you want).  The crystals take a little longer to dissolve and disperse, making for a more striking difference in effect.  Your students should note that in the cold water, the color kind of settles at the bottom and doesn't fully mix into the water.  But in the warm water, the color swirls and moves until you have one big homogeneous solution.  But solutions are a topic for another day! 

The other fun way to show the differences in the particles of solids, liquids, and gasses is to grab a dish and some BBs!  That's right!  BB's! 
Oh, how I miss having an overhead projector!  Anyway, at home you can do this sans projector.  Pack your dish full of BB's and then gently shake it side to side.  The kids can see how the particles in a solid don't move around much and lock together in a pattern. 

See how they sort of line up?  I consider this a decent time to just mention that molecules have very specific structures and always form accordingly. 

Then you take about half of the BB's out and give it a slow side to side to show how liquid particles aren't packed in as tightly and have the freedom to pour about from place to place and fill whatever container they are in.

Finally, only keep a handful in and give it a nice erratic shake to see how those crazy gas particles play!  Of course, when she tried to recreate it herself, she didn't quite get the erratic gas motion, but I assure you she saw it when it was demonstrated for her.  But what's the fun of watching demonstrations if you can play with the BB bowl yourself?  Ya know?   Doesn't she look like she's enjoying herself?

Well, there you have it!  Aren't there so many reasons to just LOVE particle motion?  No one ever had this much fun teaching grammar (sorry, English teachers)!

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