Matter Study Guide

1.    Matter is anything that takes up space.

2.    Properties of matter: color, taste, odor, shape, and volume

3.    There are 3 main states or phases of matter:

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A.   Solid: tightly packed molecules

B.    Liquid: loosely packed molecules

C.    Gas: very loosely packed molecules

4.    Condensation: when air is cooled and turned into a liquid

5.   Evaporation: when a liquid turns into a gas

6.   Temperature changes a solid into a liquid.  Think of the sun melting an ice cube (solid) to water (liquid).

7.    Atom: the smallest building block of matter

8.    Element: an element is made up of only one kind of atom

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9.   Compound: a substance made of two or more elements chemically combined

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10.                  Molecule: smallest particle made of two or more elements chemically combined

11.                  There are 3 main ways substances can be mixed together:

A.   Mixture: mixing two or more things together.  An example is party mix.

B.    Solution: a mixture in which the composition is the same throughout.  It dissolves.  It has 2 parts:

1.    Solvent: is the main substance

2.    Solute: is the substance that dissolves in the solvent.  An example is lemonade: the water is the solvent and the mix is the solute.

C.    Suspension: a mixture in which one of the parts is a liquid.  Some particles do not dissolve.  An example is an oil vinegar salad dressing. 

12.                  Mass: amount of matter something has

13.                  There are 4 main parts to atoms:

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A.   Nucleus: is the center of the atom.  There are two types of charges found in the nucleus:

1.    protons: are found in the nucleus and are positively charged (+)

2.    Neutrons: are found in the nucleus and are neutral so they don’t have a charge.

B.    Electrons: are found around the atom and have a negative charge (-)

C.    Atomic Number: the number of protons in an atom

D.   Atomic Mass: the number of protons and neutrons in an atom.

Atomic Mass



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1.  matter:  anything that has mass and takes up space


2.  mass:  how much there is of something; usually measured by weighing


3.  property:  a characteristic of matter; for example, shape, texture, size, color and what matter is made of.  The properties of a playground ball are it is spherical, red, has a rough surface, is made of rubber, bounces, is hollow, and has a circumference of 15 inches.


4.  gram:  a small unit used to measure mass; light-weight objects such as feathers, coins, and paper clips are measured in grams.


5.  kilogram:  a thousand grams;  heavier things are measured in kilograms, such a people, large animals, boulders, cars, etc.


6.  atom:  the smallest bit of matter


7.  molecule:  made of two or more atoms; for example, one molecule of water is made of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen, hence the term H O.


8.  element:  matter that is made of only one kind of atom;  for example, iron, oxygen, gold, calcium, silver, copper, nitrogen, etc.


9.  solid:  matter that has a certain size and shape


10.  liquid:  matter that has  a certain size (volume) but no shape of its own, and can be poured.


11.  gas:  matter that has no size or shape of its own and is often invisible


Concepts to review:

1.  Molecules that make up any matter move.  They move least in solids, more freely in liquids, and most freely in gases.  When matter is heated, its molecules move faster and spread farther apart.  This causes matter to expand or become larger.  When heat is removed from matter, its molecules slow down and move closer together.  Matter contracts or becomes smaller.  Water is an exception; it expands when it freezes.


2.  Solids melt when heat is added;  they change from solid to liquid.


3.  When heat is added to liquids, they change to a gas; they evaporate.


4.  When a gas is cooled, it changes to a liquid.  This is called condensation.  This is the hardest concept for children to grasp.  Give them examples like, when the water vapor from your shower comes in contact with the cold mirror, it condenses on the mirror.  When you breathe on a cold window pane, the water vapor in your breath forms a film on the window.  This is condensation.  Dew forming on the grass is also condensation.


5.  Liquids freeze when heat is removed from them.  They change from a liquid state to a solid one.