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Everything is made of matter! Ancients believed that all matter was made up of the four elements of: earth, air, water and fire. Matter has mass and takes up space. The atom is the smallest unit of matter. Matter is made from molecules of elements in different combinations. As of the 1990’s, matter is known to take five forms: solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, and condensates. Matter can change states when forces like temperature are applied. The closer the molecules are to one another, the harder the solid is. Solids hold their shape, liquids take the shape of the container. All organic matter contains carbon and comes from living organisms like plants and animals. Inorganic matter is substance of mineral origin that is not characterized by primarily carbon-based structures.

Matter matters!

Activity 1 – Make A Material Matrix

Using the saved pieces of your material photos, separate the photo clips of materials into natural-living, or once living, and inorganic or non decomposing materials. See what choices you can make on your own. Check your answers by researching online. Organic matter is matter that will decompose. Inorganic matter remains nearly the same and may last for hundreds and thousands of years. Take a vertical piece of paper, and title it MATTER MATRIX. Below the title draw a horizontal line. Under the line on the left side of the paper, paste small pieces of the material photo clips. Under each photo draw a line all the way across the paper. Add five vertical lines or columns and label them solid, liquid, gas, plasma and condensate. Add other material photographs to the left hand column. For each material, fill out the form to categorize the material. If need be, research the characteristics on the web.

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Activity 2 – Make A Matter Quilt

Walk away from your computer. Be sure to take your digital camera. Walk around your block and take a close up picture of as many examples of matter as you can find. Don’t forget natural matter such as dirt, grass, air, water, tree bark, wood, stones, sand, plants, water and sky. Photograph any man-made materials that you might see, including sidewalk concrete, asphalt, brick, glass, iron, steel, rubber and plastic. Bring your images back to the computer, download them and print them out. Cut the photos into squares saving the extra edge piece. Using the squares, paste the different matter onto a piece of poster board and create a matter quilt. Keep the photo scraps for the next activity.

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Activity 3 – What? Water!

Look at the different properties of water. Look at BBC’s Changing States/ Draw the chemical structure of water. What is the difference in molecules when water is frozen, liquid, or gas? Why does ice float in water?** How does a material change when it is heated or cooled?

Activity 4 – The Theory of Everything Small

Activity 5 – The Theory of Everything Large

Activity 6 – The Theory of Everything

Watch the video, The Universe in a Nutshell and start thinking about what people know now that they didn’t know before. Think also about what they do not know now but might now in the future.


  • Matter can take two forms.
  • Atoms are closer together or farther apart in different states.
  • Toxic materials should be avoided.
  • Organic matter comes from plants and animals.
  • Matter takes up space.
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