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Instructional Resources

Series Info

Episodes: 8

Length: 60 min.

Grade Levels:
Professional Development


Video on Demand
Teachers Guides
Web Resources


Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science

Physical Science consists of eight one-hour video programs accompanied by print and Web materials that provide in-class activities and homework explorations. Real-world examples, demonstrations, animations, still graphics, and interviews with scientists compose content segments that are intertwined with in-depth interviews with children that uncover their ideas about the topic at hand. Each program also features an elementary school teacher and his or her students exploring the topic using exemplary science curricula.

Episode Guide

1. What Is Matter?: Properties and Classification of Matter Matter is all around us — it’s what we and everything else are made of. Yet how do we define matter? What are the properties of matter that set it apart from something that is definitely not matter, such as light?

2. The Particle Nature of Matter: Solids, Liquids, and Gases—What simple idea links together all of chemistry and physics? How can a close study of the macroscopic differences among solids, liquids, and gases support a microscopic model of tiny, discrete, and constantly moving particles?

3. Physical Changes and Conservation of Matter—What happens when sugar is dissolved in a glass of water or when a pot of water on the stove boils away? Do things ever really “disappear”? In everyday life, observations that things “disappear” or “appear” seem to contradict one of the fundamental laws of nature: matter can be neither created nor destroyed.

4. Chemical Changes and Conservation of Matter—How can the particle model account for what happens when two clear liquids are mixed together and they produce a milky-white solid? What happens when iron rusts? Where do the elements come from?

5. Density and Pressure—What makes a block of wood rise to the surface of a bucket of water? Why do your ears pop when you swim deep underwater? In this session, participants examine density, an essential property of matter. They also look at how particles of matter are in constant motion, which leads to a deeper understanding of fluid pressure.

6. Rising and Sinking—Why does a hot air balloon rise into the sky? Why does ice rise in water, when a lump of solid wax will sink in a jar full of molten wax? In this session, participants generalize the model that has been developed about what rises and what sinks, using the idea of balance of forces.

7. Heat and Temperature—What makes the liquid in a thermometer rise or fall in response to temperature? Which contains more heat — a boiling teakettle on the stove or a swimming pool of lukewarm water? In this session, participants focus on the difference between heat and temperature, and examine how both are defined in terms of particles.

8. Extending the Particle Model of Matter—In this session, participants extend their understanding of the particle model to explain additional macroscopic phenomena, including the electrical properties of matter. Participants review the progression of ideas covered in the course and anticipate future developments in the understanding of matter.

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