Table 1
The Learning Progression for Properties and Structure of Matter

Achievement
Gap/challenge
Instructional experience to support progression
Level 1 – Macroscopic compositional model (likely early elementary school)
Material identity and characteristic properties of matter

• Student has a macroscopic notion of material identity.

• Student realizes some materials can change form and still remain the same material (e.g., by melting); or realizes that an object broken into smaller pieces that still have perceptual properties of the original material (e.g., a piece of paper cut into small pieces) is still the same material identity.

Pieces of matter

• Student recognizes that objects can be broken down into smaller pieces that have weight and volume.

Properties of matter in different states

• Student can distinguish general properties of solids and liquids (e.g., liquids are running but solids are not).


Key Words: observable macroscopic properties of liquids and solids; historical thinking
Material identity and characteristic properties of matter

• Student conceives of matter or materials as what you can touch and feel.

• Student tends to classify different types of materials based on historical thinking (i.e., tend to think about where materials came from to classify them– e.g., plastic is man-made and therefore is a material, whereas wood is from nature and therefore is not a material).

• Student may not distinguish extrinsic from intrinsic properties (e.g., mass and volume may be viewed as intrinsic properties).

Pieces of matter

• Student does not recognize that objects can be broken down into very much smaller pieces (like the size of a grain of sand) that have weight and volume.

Properties of matter in different states

• Student sees solids and liquids as fundamentally different.
• Help students understand that if one divides an object into very small pieces that appear not to have the perceptual properties of the original object (like the size of sand grains from masses). Also help students realize that these tiny pieces also have weight and volume by using sensitive instruments like scales or graduated cylinders.

• Help students understand that liquids and solids of the same material are fundamentally similar (e.g., like solid and liquid butter or solid and liquid water) by visualizing the state change from liquid to solid and vice versa. Students should work with evidence that intrinsic properties of matter are constant even though the extrinsic properties like mass and volume can change.

• Help students realize that solids and liquids are fundamentally similar in that they both have mass and volume; bridging analogies can also be helpful, such as exploring aggregates to show how volume and mass are extrinsic properties of both solids and liquids and both can be divided into smaller units that if added up, can equal the sum of the original object or sample.
Level 2 – Microscopic compositional model (likely late elementary school)
Material identity and characteristic properties of matter

• Student has a microscopic compositional notion of material identity; realizes that an object broken into smaller pieces that no longer have the perceptual properties of the original object is still the same material identity (e.g., wood vs. saw dust).

Pieces of matter

• Student recognizes that an object can be broken down into very small pieces (like grains of sand) that have weight and volume.

Properties of matter in different states

• Student recognizes that all solids and liquids are fundamentally similar in that they all have mass and volume; and recognizes that matter may come in solid or liquid forms.


Key Words: material kinds of solids and liquids; mass and volume; historical thinking
Material identity and characteristic properties of matter

• Student still may conceive of matter or materials as what you can touch and feel.

• Student may sometimes classify different types of materials based on historical thinking.

• Student does not recognize that different properties of matter are determined by the arrangement and motion of particles making up the matter.

• Student may ignore some intrinsic properties of matter (such as odor).

Pieces of matter

• Student does not have a nanoscopic notion of material identity, but has a microscopic notion of material identity.

Properties of matter in different states

• Student does not recognize gases as a form of matter or materials.
• Help students understand that intrinsic properties are unique to matter and are related to the nanoscopic particles that compose matter by using physical and/or computer modeling tools.

• Help students understand that gas is another form of matter by constructing models and using representations to explore and make sense of the state change from liquid to gas and vice versa.
Level 3 – Developing particle model (likely early middle school)
Material identity and characteristic properties of matter

• Student has a developing nanoscopic notion of material identity; sometimes recognizes that different materials are made of different particles (e.g., wax is made of wax particles and water is made of water particles).

Pieces of matter

• Student conceives of matter as made of particles that have mass and volume.

• Student sometimes thinks of empty space between particles for some materials.

• Student sometimes recognizes that particles of matter move.

Properties of matter in different states

• Student recognizes that all three states of matter (i.e., solid, liquid, gas) are fundamentally similar in that they all occupy space and have mass and volume.


Key words: particles with macro properties
Material identity and characteristic properties of matter

• Student sometimes may not recognize some materials or substance as being composed of particles.

• Student may associate macroscopic properties like hardness or temperature with individual particles.

• Student does not recognize that the properties of materials are determined by the collection of the particles' moving and interacting with each other.

Pieces of matter

• Student may not recognize that there is empty space between particles in all conditions although having a nanoscopic notion of material identity.

• Student may not recognize that particles move for all substances and all states of matter.

Properties of matter in different states

• Student may not effectively incorporate ideas about motion and spacing of particles to matter that exists in different states.
• Help students understand that different properties of matter are determined by the arrangement and motion of particles making up the matter by using computer simulations. Provide investigative opportunities for students to explore the relations between properties of matter and the arrangement and/or motion of particles.

• Using computer-based visualization tools helps students recognize that there is empty space between particles in all three states, but the space between particles in the three states is different.
Level 4 – Particle model (likely early middle school)
Material identity and characteristic properties of matter

• Student has an established nanoscopic notion of material identity; consistently recognizes that different materials are made of particles.

• Student recognizes that the properties of a material are determined by the aggregation of the particles' movement and interaction with each other.

Pieces of matter

• Student consistently conceives of matter as made of particles that have mass and volume.

• Student consistently thinks there is empty space between the particles.

• Student consistently recognizes that particles of matter move (Note that students are not expected to think about absolute zero).

• Student recognizes that temperature is a product of the average kinetic energies of the particles of the substance.

Properties of matter in different states

• Student recognizes that the macroscopic properties of solids, liquids, and gases are a result of the spacing and speed of nanoscopic particles.


Key words: Particles with mass and volume; properties as a result of a collection of particles; interactions between particles; consistent application of nanoscopic level of material identity
Material identity and characteristic properties of matter

• Student may not recognize that different properties of matter are determined by the type and arrangement of atoms.

Pieces of matter

• Student may not consistently recognize that different materials are made of specific atoms, or combinations of atoms forming molecules, although may have a general particle model.
• Help students construct an atomic-molecular model in which different particles are made of specific atoms or combinations of atoms forming molecules.


• Use physical or computer models to help them understand the difference between molecules and atoms.

• Provide investigative opportunities for students to construct arguments about the behaviors of matter undergoing chemical change by using an atomic-molecular model to evaluate which argument better explains and predicts chemical change.
Level 5 – Atom-molecular model (likely late middle school or early high school)
Material identity and characteristic properties of matter

• Student has a refined nanoscopic notion of material identity; recognizes that different materials are made of specific atoms or combinations of atoms forming molecules and that the arrangement of the atoms and molecules determines the properties of the material.

Pieces of matter

• Student conceives of matter as made of atoms, or molecules composed of atoms, and that the atoms have mass and volume.

• Student consistently thinks there is empty space between molecules.

Properties of matter in different states

• Student recognizes that different properties are determined by the arrangement and motion of particles making up the substance.

• Student may include the notion of attractive forces between particles to explain some properties of matter.


Key words: Particles with mass and volume; properties as a result of a collection of particles; interactions between particles; consistent application of nanoscopic level of material identity
Material identity and characteristic properties of matter

• Student does not recognize that atoms may be composed of smaller particles like electrons, neutrons, protons) [Note, however, that this notion is high school content and would not be expected for middle school].

• Student may not include the notion of attractive forces between atoms and/or molecules.



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