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Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS)
addressed in this packet:
Grades 5: Structure and Properties of Matter
Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
This is such a fun lab! I do it every year with my students - they love the challenge and they love how they get to work as scientists completely independently, at their own pace, trying to figure out the differences between the “Mystery Powders” that I give to them. The point of this lab is not to figure out what the Mystery Powders are (salt, sugar, flour, baking soda, cornstarch) but to look at their physical and chemical properties in order to TELL THEM APART!! I use this lab to teach my students about what scientists do: we make good observations, we question, we hypothesize, we record our data, we make conclusions based on data compiled. At first glance, the 5 Mystery Powders look pretty much the same - they just look like white powders. But after doing a series of experiments and making some good observations, students will be able to see the physical and chemical differences. I do not give my students a written test at the end of this lab. Instead, I give them one of the mystery powders and they have to tell me which one it is based on their observations and experiments. It is a really fun challenge to give to your students, they will put so much effort into figuring out which Mystery Powder you gave them!
Materials you will need for the lab: 5 mystery powders: cornstarch, baking soda, sugar, salt, flour, water, vinegar, cabbage juice (make your own-recipe included or purchase on-line), wooden sticks or stirrers, plastic wrap/foil/waxed paper/something to do the experiments on (mixing the powders with water, vinegar, and cabbage juice)
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Please note: these units are for the use of one educator.
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Sue from Science for Kids :)