Resource 2: Looking at properties of solids
Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils
Many objects are made from solids. Solids come in many different types, each with their own properties. The properties of the solid must be suitable for the object it is being used to make.
One activity for your pupils is to brainstorm all the different properties materials can have. Put out a display of objects around the classroom. Make a label for each object with some questions (see below for examples). Pupils, working in pairs, should spend 20 minutes looking at the objects and answering the questions about the materials to help them describe their properties.
Here are some suggestions for objects and labels for your display:
|Piece of copper wire||Pick up the wire. Can you bend it? Where have you seen it being used? What is able to pass through it?|
|Woven basket||How does the basket feel? Can you easily pull it apart?|
|Metal spoon||Pick up the spoon and think of three words to describe how it feels. What happens to the spoon if you put one end in a cup of very hot water?|
|Pottery cup||Can you change the shape of the pottery? Would it break if you dropped it? (DO NOT TRY THIS.)|
|Piece of glass||Can you see through the glass? What would happen if you dropped it? (DO NOT TRY THIS.)|
|Plastic bag||What happens if you drop water onto the plastic bag? Does it go through into the bag? Can you easily fold up the bag?|
|Wooden spoon||Can you bend the spoon? What happens to the spoon if you put one end in a cup of very hot water?|
|Piece of cotton fabric||Hold the material up to your face. Can you see through it? What does it feel like?|
|Small magnet and pins||Move the magnet over the pins. What happens? Where have you seen a magnet being used?|
As your pupils look at the objects you should move around the class talking to pupils about what they observe. At the end of the time, gather your pupils back together and ask different pupils to tell you what they observed about one of the objects. Build up a list of properties on your chalkboard or class wall. If your pupils aren’t familiar with these property words in English, let them use them in their own language. You could put the English words on a display in your classroom to help pupils learn them.
This is an example list:
Melting point (high/low)
Insulator (heat and electricity)
Conductor (heat and electricity)
Easy to cut
Make sure that your pupils can explain what each property means and ask them to draw a table in their books to show each property and an example of a material with that property e.g.
|Property||What it means||Example|
|Insulator||Does not let heat go through it||Wood|
Now set your pupils some problems around choosing materials. Here are some examples:
A: Isanga grows vegetables close to her house but she needs some way of protecting her young plants from birds. What sort of structure might she build? What materials should she use? Why should she choose these materials?
B: Gagwala wants to put a new top on the table in his kitchen; the old one is very uneven and covered in burn marks. What sort of material should he use for the new table top?
C: Samuel needs a bag to carry his books to school. What sort of material should he choose for the bag?
For each problem, pupils should think about what the object needs to do, and choose, from their list, the properties it must have. Then they can choose which material would be best in each case.