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ZingPath: States of Matter

Properties of Solids, Liquids, and Gases

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States of Matter

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Lesson Focus

Properties of Solids, Liquids, and Gases

Physical Science

Learning Made Easy

This Activity Object uses a futuristic robot maze consisting of pistons that act as bridges to help you deepen your understanding of solids, liquids, and gases.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Sequence gases, liquids, and solids in order of compressibility.
  • Explain that particles are packed closer in solids than in liquids, and liquid particles are closer than particles in gases.
  • Explain the basic properties of solids, liquids, gases.

Everything You'll Have Covered

All matter is composed of small particles (atoms, molecules, and ions). Scientists often classify matter in three main states-solids, liquids, and gases-and these states have properties that identify them. Solids are made of particles that are closely packed that do not move freely around each other. The arrangement of particles of solids makes them difficult to compress. Most solids have a specific geometric arrangement that is formed when the solid is cooled. Chemical and physical properties of solids can often be attributed to that specific geometric arrangement. Although not visible to the naked eye, the tightly packed particles of solids constantly vibrate in place.

Particles of liquids are closely packed but are not fixed in definite places and are freer to move than those of solids. However, since there is little space between particles of liquids, they cannot be compressed easily. Particles in a liquid state have more kinetic energy than particles in solids. This means the particles can move past each other, so that liquids can flow and take the shape of their container. Some solids have a melting point. That is the temperature at which the solid begins to liquefy. This happens when particles of the solid gains enough kinetic energy to overcome the attractive forces that make a solid arrangement.

Particles that make gases are loosely packed and move freely. This makes gases easy to compress. Since gas particles are far apart and move freely, they do not have a fixed shape. In a vacuum, gas particles expand to fill the volume of their container, and there is empty space between the particles. Some liquid particles have more kinetic energy than others. As the liquid particles move fast enough, they can escape the attractive forces of other particles and enter a gas state. This is called vaporization, which can occur in two ways-by evaporation or boiling.

There are other states of matter and proposed states of matter, and plasma is one with which some learners may be familiar. Scientists describe plasma as a state of matter consisting of positively and negatively charged particles. Its overall charge is neutral because of equal numbers of both positive and negative charges. It is a highly ionized gas that occurs at extremely high temperatures. Even though solids, liquids, and gases are the most familiar states of matter, scientists estimate that much of the matter in the universe is actually plasma. Examples of plasma include the Sun and other stars, lightning bolts, neon and fluorescent tubes, welding arcs, and auroras, and comet tails.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 20 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should be familiar with particles and states of matter.
Course Physical Science
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary compress, gas, liquid