Atomic Motion In Different States Of Matter - Preview

Atomic Motion In Different States Of Matter

Subject: Chemistry
Time: 1-2 Class periods (45 minutes each)
Level: Any chemistry class, grades 8-12


After a brief mini-lecture and follow-up handout defining the terms atom, molecule, element, and compound, students use the Concord Consortium Molecular Workbench “Atomic Motion in Different States of Matter” simulation to deepen their understanding of the submicroscopic properties of these different states of matter.

Learner Objectives:

- Student will be able to define the states of matter and compare and contrast their properties.

- Student will be able to classify materials as elements, compounds, or mixtures, stating the evidence for the classification.




The lesson begins with an introduction to the terms atoms, molecules, elements, and compounds. Below are brief definitions of each term and their relation to one another.

  • Elements: substances that cannot be separated into simpler substances. Salt is made up of the elements sodium and chloride. Water is made up of the elements hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Atoms: the smallest particle of an element that has the properties of that element.
  • Compounds: substance formed when two or more elements are chemically joined. Water, salt, and sugar are examples of compounds. When the elements are joined, the atoms lose their individual properties and have different properties from the elements they are composed of.
  • Molecules: consist of two or more atoms of the same element, or different elements, that are chemically bound together.
  • A compound is a molecule that contains at least two different elements. All compounds are molecules but not all molecules are compounds.
  • Molecular hydrogen (H2), molecular oxygen (O2) and molecular nitrogen (N2) are not compounds because each is composed of a single element. Water (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are compounds because each is made from more than one element.

Pre-class Preparation

It is recommended to download the Molecular Workbench program before students work with the simulation. The program can be downloaded from the Concord Consortium website at http://mw.concord.org/modeler/index.html.


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Next Generation Science Standards
  • Physical Science

Computational Thinking in STEM
  • Modeling and Simulation Practices
    • Assessing Computational Models
    • Using Computational Models to Understand a Concept
  • Data Practices
    • Analyzing Data
    • Visualizing Data

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Atomic Motion in Different States of Matter