Materials Matter: A Project-Based “Properties of Matter” Unit for Middle School
You are a new fashion designer hoping to specialize in jewelry or “wearable art” for the stars. Teen idol and pop singing sensation Divano Singh has decided to give you your big break. He wants a piece of wearable art that will set him apart at the next MTV Music Awards. He has given you free reign both with the design and the materials used. To quote Divano, “I don’t care what it looks like, as long as it is perfect.”
Over the next few days, you will need to experiment with and research materials to use to create your wearable art. You will need to consider the appearance of your materials as well as other physical and chemical properties.
You have high hopes that your design will thoroughly impress Divano and launch your career.
All research materials are included. No computer or internet access is needed.
This unit was designed to teach these Texas 6th Grade Science objectives.
The student knows the differences between elements and compounds. The student is expected to:
(A) know that an element is a pure substance represented by chemical symbols;
(B) recognize that a limited number of the many known elements comprise the largest portion of solid Earth, living matter, oceans, and the atmosphere;
(C) differentiate between elements and compounds on the most basic level; and
(D) identify the formation of a new substance by using the evidence of a possible chemical change such as production of a gas, change in temperature, production of a precipitate, or color change.
The student knows matter has physical properties that can be used for classification. The student is expected to:
(A) compare metals, nonmetals, and metalloids using physical properties such as luster, conductivity, or malleability;
(B) Calculate density to identify an unknown substance
(C) test the physical properties of minerals, including hardness, color, luster, and streak.
Introduction and Planning – Students read the project description and begin to plan their design.
Defining Elements – Students read and answer questions to introduce elements.
Physical Properties of Elements – (Lab) Students examine samples of sulfur, silicon, magnesium, copper, and carbon to identify physical properties such as luster, malleability, and conductivity.
Metals, Non-metals, and Metalloids – Students determine if the samples in the previous lab are metals, metalloids, or non-metals based on their properties. Students identify physical properties that would be useful in making jewelry.
Chemical Changes – (Lab)
Students experiment with chemical properties of metals in order to identify the properties that would be best for jewelry. Students observe signs of a chemical change.
Researching Elements –
Students compare the properties of 24 different elements and select 5 elements that they would consider using in their design.
Considering Compounds – (Lab)
Students define a compound. Students test mineral compounds to identify their luster, streak, and hardness.
Density – (Lab) Students learn to calculate density by finding the density of 5 minerals.
Density Diversion – Students use density to identify unknown metals.
Researching Compounds – Students compare the properties of 12 different minerals (compounds) and identify 3 minerals that they would consider using in their design.
Element Research Cards
Mineral Research Cards
Teacher Notes and Keys
(per lab group) safety goggles, lump of sulfur, lump of silicon, carbon in graphite form, magnesium ribbon, copper wire, 5 additional minerals, conductivity tester, medium test tube, test tube rack, vinegar, steel wool, salt, beaker, 3 % hydrogen peroxide, penny, paper towels, plastic plate, mineral testing kit, triple beam balance, graduated cylinder
See the preview for the complete introduction, a sample lesson – “Chemical Changes”, and a page of Element Research Cards.
Two PowerPoint slideshows – “Elements” and “Minerals” - can be downloaded for free from this site. They are intended to be used with the Element and Mineral Research Cards.
The Wasp Whisperer