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The Chemistry of Materials | NGSS

The Chemistry of Materials | NGSS

~30 40 to 50 minute class periods (6 weeks)

What are the environmental impacts of producing, using, and disposing of materials?

Students develop and use models to describe the composition of different materials and how those materials respond under various conditions. They gather and make sense of information about where those materials come from and how scientists and engineers decide which material is best for making a product.

PE Assessment Example: Develop a model that depicts water molecules in all three states—solid, liquid, and gas—and the relationship between these states. Your model should include the following: particle motion in each state, how particles interact within each state, the cause-and-effect relationship between addition or removal of thermal energy, particle movement, and state changes. Hint: Think about the models you created in the last two activities and how you can add any new ideas from this activity to your models.

Chemistry of Materials is part of Issues and Science three year middle school program, designed by SEPUP at the Lawrence Hall of Science. This six week unit anchors the lessons around the the socio-science issue: What is the environmental impact associated with making and disposing of electronics? Investigative phenomena within the 13 activities connect back to the issue and storyline. This unit builds towards and assesses PEs PS1-1, PS1-3, PS1-4.


Content in The Chemistry of Materials | NGSS is organized into 13 activities, as follows:

Activity Title Activity Type Activity Overview
1.. Exploring Materials Talking it Over Students brainstorm and discuss what they know about the properties of aluminum, glass, and plastic as materials for producing single-use drink containers. They discuss their current understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each material and develop a list of questions needed to decide which is better for single-use drink containers. They then examine four graphs of data on the materials to help inform their choice.
2. Investigating Elements Laboratory Students investigate the physical properties of a set of elements. They investigate physical properties including appearance, malleability, density, and solubility in water at room temperature. They are introduced to the concept that each element is composed of a specific type of atom.
3. Physical and Chemical Properties of Materials Laboratory Students explore the properties of several materials, including compounds and elements. They look at density relative to water, solubility in water, and reactivity. They then analyze data on melting point, boiling point, and flammability.
4. Determining Density Laboratory Students determine the volume and mass of six samples—aluminum, glass, and four types of plastics—and then calculate the density for each object. Based on their calculations, they predict if the objects will sink or float in water and then test their predictions.
5. Evaluating Properties of Materials Talking It Over Students gather information from text and visual resources on aluminum, glass, and plastic. They evaluate the sources of information for point of view and bias, and use the information to inform a debate about which material is the best choice for a reusable drink container.
6. Modeling Molecules Modeling Students begin to explore the organization of atoms and molecules as they use models to investigate atoms, elements, chemical bonds, molecules, and compounds.
7. Structure and Properties of Materials Reading Students integrate information from text and diagrammatic models describing the structures of a variety of substances and relating these structures to the properties of the substances. They organize information about the various structures that are made of individual atoms, molecules, or extended structures.
8. What’s in a State? Talking It Over Student groups discuss the three states of matter and characteristics of each. Students examine syringes filled with materials in each state and predict and test whether they can compress the substances. Students then use a simulation to investigate the particles in each substance—how they move and how they interact with each other. Throughout the activity, students draw and revise models of the particles in each state.
9. Energy and Particle Movement Laboratory Students investigate the effect of temperature on gas particles through two different investigations. In the first investigation, they observe what happens to a soap film when the container is submerged in hot or ice water. In the second investigation, they observe what happens to air and water inside of a syringe that is submerged in hot, room temperature, or ice water.
10. Modeling State Changes Laboratory Students record the temperature of water over time as they freeze it. They then record the temperature over time as the ice melts. Students graph their data to produce curves that show the freezing and melting temperatures of water. This activity provides an opportunity to assess student work related to Performance Expectation MS-PS1-4.
11. Making Polymers Laboratory Having previously investigated properties of two plastics, students cross-link polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) with sodium borate to produce a third polymer similar to the one known commercially as slime. Students are introduced to synthetic chemistry and chemical change as they compare the properties of the starting substances and the product they developed through a chemical cross-linking reaction.
12. Modeling Polymers Modeling Students construct models to study the structure of polymers. Manipulating the models helps them understand how the physical properties of a polymer result from its extended structure. In a second type of model, the class acts as a polymer, with student pairs representing monomers. Students identify the strengths and weaknesses of the models to represent polymers and cross-linking.
13. The Impact of Plastics on Society Talking It Over Students gather information from provided text and diagrams to determine the resources used, properties of, and impacts of a set of four polymers (Teflon, Kevlar, compostable polymers, and polyester). Students use this information to assess the benefits and trade-offs of plastics in modern society.

Lab-Aids® provides several useful tools to guide you and your students through The Chemistry of Materials unit:

The Chemistry of Materials | NGSS

Student Book

The Student Book guides students in exploring a socio-science issue and connected phemonena through a series of varied activity types. Activity types use one of twelve different instructional strategies to apply Science and Engineering Practices to specific Disciplinary Core Ideas and Cross Cutting Concepts.

SEPUP's integrated literacy strategies help students process new science content, develop their analytical skills, make connections between related concepts, and express their knowledge orally and in writing. The built-in assessment system helps teachers identify students' strengths and weaknesses from the beginning of the unit. This allows them to adjust activities when needed so that all students get the best chance to build their knowledge and appreciation of science. At the back of the Student Book there is an Appendix containing additional resources for students, such as science skills, literacy strategies, and media literacy among others.

The Chemistry of Materials | NGSS

Lab-Aids® Science Lab Notebook

A science notebook not only models the way scientists work, but it helps to develop and reinforce students’ science learning and literacy skills.

The Lab-Aids Science Lab Notebook is designed to support best practice note-booking strategies. It includes three-hole punched pages in a two-column design for Cornell-style notes. GraphAnywhere pages allow students to both write and easily create data-tables and graphs anywhere on the page. The unique “Lab-Log” column serves as a blank canvas for drawings, connections, and self-reflective notes. 160 pages total.

The Chemistry of Materials | NGSS

Complete Equipment Package

Lab-Aids programs include high-quality equipment for each activity. This includes innovative lab-ware to be used throughout the year, specific solutions and materials for unique labs, as well as items needed for card sorts, modeling, role-plays, and projects.

Materials for up to 5 classes of 32 students, mobile storage cart, Online Portal for one teacher includes online subscription to Teacher Edition and Resources, Student Book in English/Spanish (E/S), student sheets (E/S), visual aids (E/S), PowerPoints, online assessment system, LABsent, and supplemental resources.

Teacher's Edition and Resources

The SEPUP Teacher Edition (TE) guides you through each activity in the Student Book and helps you see the development of concepts within the big picture of the unit. It helps you set up the equipment from the kit, organize the classroom, conduct activities, and manage practical details, all of which enhance students’ learning environment.

The Teacher Edition text is broken down into several sections, such as Activity Overview, NGSS Connections and Correlations, Materials and Advanced Prep, Teaching Summary, and Background information to name a few. The Teacher Edition is packaged as a color-printed, loose-leaf binder which allows you to personalize it with highlighting, annotations, rearrangements, and insertions. It provides full support for teaching the program. Additional support resources can also found in the Teacher Resource book.

The Teacher Resource (TR) provides background and suggestions to increase the overall effectiveness of implementing the program across all levels of learners. Some sections include: SEPUP’s Approach to Teaching and Learning, Differentiation Strategies for Diverse Learners, Literacy Strategies for Supporting Reading Comprehension and for Enhancing Students’ Writing, and comprehensive instruction on the SEPUP Assessment System. There is also a section containing unit specific resources, such as overviews, unit storyline and phenomena table, NGSS correlations, assessment blueprints, and item banks.

Online Portal for Students

Access to Student online portal for 1 year, which includes: the digital Student Book (Spanish coming soon), additional resources, and LABsent sheets and videos for absent students. Ability to highlight, bookmark and make notes in the Student Book, complete homework and assessments, and communicate with the teacher. Also available as multi-year subscriptions.

Online Portal for Teachers

Access to Teacher online portal for 7 years, which includes: online subscription to the Teacher Edition and Resources, Student Book (Spanish coming soon), LABsent sheets & videos for absent students, Editable PowerPoints for each lesson, and integrated online assessment system. Ability to highlight, bookmark, and make notes in personal Student and Teacher books, create and assign homework and assessments, and communicate with students. Available as multi-year subscriptions. Single Sign-On (SSO) available.