Physical Science

Kinetic Theory Activities

Hi all - We're going to be starting our next unit in 9th grade Physical Science soon and I am wondering if anybody has a go-to activity dealing with kinetic theory. I have an introductory powerpoint to introduce the main ideas, but don't want the kids just sitting the entire time. I would love any suggestions about how to create a nature of science lesson (hypothesis versus theory) without getting too bogged down with semantics. I know that the list-serve often goes through the difference between theories and hypotheses, but I find these conversations aren't at a 9th grade level. Has anybody ever put together an activity dealing with the difference and importance of hypotheses and theories? I look forward to any thoughts or ideas to use with my students. Cheers! Kathryn

Kathryn Kennedy
Kathryn Kennedy
9055 Activity Points

Hi Kathryn! Try these activities:

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Josefina Goodwin
Josefina Goodwin
750 Activity Points

Hi Kathryn,
I also responded to your similar request in the General Science and Teaching: Theories Discussion Thread. But I found an additional resource that you may find useful:
Measurements and Molecules Matter: Less Is More and Curriculum "Survival of the Fittest"
The summary about this book chapter says..."the activity is one of many that can be used to convince students that the atomic and kinetic molecular theory really is a sensible (i.e., its effects can be experienced through the senses and are logical) and powerful explanatory and predictive model for a wide variety of macroscopic events."
I think it may be an activity you could use.
Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
81908 Activity Points

Kathyrn: I always started my unit on the kinetic theory of motion by having the whole class stand up and follow me as I act out the three common phases of matter. I will give you a quick summary here. You need a location that is open or move chairs back. Solids: Students stay in place (no foot moving) and wiggle and jiggle and twist. [Solids are in motion but not from their location so the stool I am looking at is still there.) Liquids: Feet can take baby steps in any direction while their upper bodies are still wiggling and jiggling. {Example is that water flows from where it is poured.} Gases: Have students cross their hands across their chests. Students move in a straight line as fast as they can until they hit a surface or another students and then they bounce off or reflect off in another direction until they hit something else.(Explains why the grocery store bakes brownies inside store. Smell (gas) fills the building and those entering the store smell it and want to buy them. This is fun and I usually held up a sign saying cooler on one side and hotter on the other. Students watch the sign and behave in the way the sign reads. If I hold up hotter they move faster. If I hold up cooler side they move slower. At the completion of this exercise have they write their observations of the behavior of the three states of matter and ask them to explain how they behave differently. It is fun. Hope that helps. Adah

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101490 Activity Points

Hi Carolyn and Adah - Thanks so much for the ideas! I actually remember reading the article that Carolyn mentioned (I even wrote a review for it!) and will definitely use the modeling activity (I've used that in the past). I actually created stations at which students need to observe different mixtures or ponder questions (Why can we smell french fries a block away from McDonalds?) in order to spark discussion about the theory. Thanks again for your advice. Cheers! Kathryn

Kathryn Kennedy
Kathryn Kennedy
9055 Activity Points

Hi Carolyn and Adah - I wanted to share my 'assessment' that I made to probe for understanding of theories, laws and hypotheses with my students. I modified it from the November 2004 issue (Myths of Science). I would love to hear your thoughts on this formative assessment. Thanks again for the advice earlier. Cheers! Kathryn

Kathryn Kennedy
Kathryn Kennedy
9055 Activity Points

A great demonstration to go along with lecture represents the fluidity of the different states of matter. Take a glas jar and fill it with marbles, golf balls, bouncy balls, or whatever yo have. Fill the jar as tightly as it can e packed with the balls and show how when shake it or move it the marbles stay fixed in place, this represents solids. For liquid, take a few balls out so that when you twist, turn and move the jar, the balls can interchange places. For gas just put a few balls inside and shake it to show how they move around in all directions very quickly. Jason

Jason Ward
Jason Ward
1010 Activity Points

http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/gas-properties PhET at the University of Boulder has a nice simulation on gas volumes and changes in kinetic energy - the site also alerts the user to how to use these Java based simulations without endangering your computer. Here is the blurb on the kinetic theory simulation: Pump gas molecules to a box and see what happens as you change the volume, add or remove heat, change gravity, and more. Measure the temperature and pressure, and discover how the properties of the gas vary in relation to each other. If you scroll down the page, you will note that there are numerous lesson plans offered by teachers at various levels. some of these lesson plans may offer you insight into what you might design for your students. Give it a twirl and see what you think. ~patty

Patricia Rourke
Patricia Rourke
45895 Activity Points

Thank you fellow science teachers. I'm learning a lot from you all.

Josefina Goodwin
Josefina Goodwin
750 Activity Points

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