The Mystery Powder Lab is used in my 9th grade physical science class as an introduction to the importance of understanding and being able to identify chemical and physical properties and chemical and physical changes. This lab is set up as a forensic, crime scene investigation where the students test several similar looking powders, complete a chart of all the observations, and try to identify two unknowns from the crime scene/suspect's clothing using their testing observations. There is background information at the beginning of the lab that provides a review or introduction to physical/chemical properties and physical/chemical changes. This could be easily modified for junior high science or introduction of chemistry. The lab is also aligned with common core standards for physical science relating to classification of matter and using properties to identify types of matter. Students really enjoy this lab! Sometimes I even recreate a fake crime scene with props and I tell them that they will be my forensic chemists for the day! Lastly, students complete follow up questions about the lab experiment relating to properties and changes. Answer key provided!
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