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«This guide is an educator’s companion to Molecularium™ the exciting, new, animated dome experience. - About the Show - Molecularium™- Riding ...»

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Teacher’s Resource Guide)

Welcome to

This guide is an educator’s companion to Molecularium™

the exciting, new, animated dome experience.

- About the Show -

Molecularium™- Riding Snowflakes

is a magical, musical adventure into the world of ATOMS and MOLECULES! This

Digital-Dome experience takes you on a journey with OXY, HYDRO and HYDRA, an

amazing cast of atoms, aboard the most fantastic ship in the Universe: the

MOLECULARIUM. It is the result of an unprecedented collaboration between scientists and artists, educators and entertainers. Molecularium brings kids on a musical cartoon adventure into a NANOSCALE UNIVERSE created from accurate molecular simulations. They learn about the 3 states of matter as they travel into a cloud, watch a snowflake form, and count the number of water molecules in a raindrop.

- ABOUT THIS GUIDE - The Molecularium Teacher’s Resource Guide is made for elementary educators teaching their students about STATES of MATTER, ATOMS and MOLECULES. It is not necessary to see the show to put this guide to good use, but teachers taking their classes to see the show will find it especially useful.


This Teacher’s Guide addresses the following National Science Education Standards National Content Standard (K-4) Key Idea

• Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry Standard A-Science as Inquiry

• Understanding about scientific inquiry

• Properties of objects and materials • Standard B- Physical Science Position and motion of objects

• Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism • Standard C- Life Science The characteristics of organisms • Standard D- Earth and Space Science Properties of earth materials

• Abilities of technological design

• Understanding about science and technology Standard E-Science and Technology

• Abilities to distinguish between natural objects and objects made by humans 2 Table of Contents About the Show 1 About this guide 1 The Goal of this guide 2 Table of Contents 3 Lesson Plans Lesson One: Matter, Matter Everywhere 4 Lesson Two: What is Matter Made of? 9 Lesson Three: Atoms Make Molecules 13 Lesson FOUR: Molecular Fun – Chemical Reactions 17 Lesson FIVE: Polymers – Some Very Long Molecules 23

–  –  –


1. Tell everyone that today they are going to become scientists. Ask them what they think a scientist does. Have them complete the sentence, “A scientist…”

2. Explain that one of the most important jobs of a scientist is to observe and classify. Explain that “observe” means to watch or look at something very carefully and “classify” means to put things into groups (classes).

3. Give or elicit examples of classification. (i.e. Clothing can be grouped into tops, bottoms, shoes etc…) Ask students to give examples of each group. When they get the idea, have them decide how to classify another category such as food or sports. It is useful to write the categories on the board so that they can see the groupings.

4. Write “UNIVERSE” on the board. Ask students what this word means to them. Discuss that this word is used to describe everything; all that is. Explain that scientists have divided the Universe into main two classes. Write “MATTER” and “ENERGY” on the board below.

5. Explain that “MATTER” is the word that scientists use for the “stuff” that all things are made of and that “ENERGY” is the word they use to describe what moves that stuff.

6. Explain that they are going to focus on studying MATTER, the stuff things are made of. Explain that scientists have classified MATTER into three main categories called STATES (or PHASES).

They are going to observe some matter and classify it into the different STATES.



• Ziplock bags

• Rocks (or any other solid you wish, i.e. a ball, a wood block, a pencil)

• Water with food coloring Note: The following activity can be done as a guided activity for younger ages or as a small group activity for older ages who can use the handout included in the appendix to investigate on their own. The procedure described is for the guided activity for younger ages. If done in small groups, you can rotate bags to save on material preparation.


1. Prepare Ziplock bags. In one bag have a rock, fill another full of colored liquid and inflate the third full of air. Put them in a paper bag so the students can’t see them, heightening their curiosity as you take each one out.

2. Take out the bag with the rock and have students describe what is in the bag. Have them describe its shape, weight and hardness. Ask if it takes up space. Take it out of the bag and let 4 students examine it. Ask if its shape changes. Put it in the cup. Ask if its shape changed to fit the cup. Does it have weight? Hold it above the table and ask what will happen if you drop it. Will it go through the table? Demonstrate that it does not and explain that it and the table are both SOLIDS. Write the word SOLID on the board under MATTER.

3. Take out the bag of LIQUID and have the students describe it. Again have them describe its shape, weight and hardness. Ask if it takes up space. Ask what will happen if you open the bag and tip it. Open the bag and pour some into the cup and ask if the shape has changed. Ask what will happen if you pour a little on the table. Do this and ask how the shape has changed. Note how it spreads out in all directions (if the table is level). Introduce the term LIQUID and write it on the board.

4. Take out the bag of air and have the students describe it. Since GASES are usually invisible, students may at first think that there is nothing in the bag and some demonstration is useful before having them describe it. Show them there is something in the bag keeping the sides of the bag from touching each other. Pass around the bag and let them feel it. Ask if anyone knows what is in the bag. If no one does, ask what is in a balloon. Discuss that the bag is full of air.

Ask if air takes up space. Ask what will happen if you open the bag. Do it and let most of the air escape. Ask them what happened to it. Ask if it changed its shape. Explain that air is moving all around us but that it is invisible. Talk about how we breathe it all the time. Have everyone take a deep breath and blow on their hand to feel the air. Ask what will happen if you blow into the bag.

Inflate the bag and show them that you can fill the bag with it. Introduce the term GAS and write it on the board.


Summarize and review their observations by talking about and listing the properties of these THREE STATES OF MATTER on the board.

–  –  –

Note that MATTER always takes up space and has weight. The amount of space MATTER takes up is called VOLUME. Scientists use the word MASS to talk about how much MATTER there is in something.

Scientists weigh things to find out how much MASS different things have. The more something weighs, the more MASS it has. MASS is related to WEIGHT more than SIZE (VOLUME). Of the three things observed, the AIR was the largest (had the most VOLUME), and also the lightest (had the least MASS).

Write this on the board: All MATTER has MASS and VOLUME. These are two PROPERTIES of MATTER.

DEMONSTRATION: Air takes up space


• a big clear bowl or container full of water (an aquarium is perfect)

• a clear glass tumbler or beaker

• a piece of paper

• a Styrofoam packaging noodle (any small piece of Styrofoam will do).

–  –  –

1. Hold up the empty glass and ask what is in it. (Give high praise to anyone that says air and tell them you are going to prove it for them right now.)

2. Crumple up a piece of paper and stuff it in the bottom of the glass so that it doesn’t fall out when you turn it upside down.

3. Ask what will happen if you push the glass straight down into the bowl of water. Ask if the paper will get wet.

4. Push the glass straight down into the water. Allow everyone to have a look.

5. Take it out of the water and have someone remove the paper.

6. Ask why the water didn’t go up into the glass.

7. Float a Styrofoam packaging noodle on the surface of the water. Put the glass over the noodle and push it down to the bottom. Have everyone observe what happens.


Talk about what they observed. Ask why the paper didn’t get wet and the noodle was pushed down.

Make clear that the cup was not empty but full of air. Talk about how they could see that the air takes up space and prevented the water from filling the cup. What is a word for the amount of space? You may wish to explain and demonstrate that you trapped the air in the cup by pushing straight down. If you pushed it in at an angle, the air would escape and water would rush in, pushing most of the air out.

ACTIVITY: Transforming Matter Material: (for each pair)

• A sealed plastic bag

• An ice cube

• A watch or clock for timing

• Ice trays

• A cooler (optional)

• A clock or watch that displays seconds


1. Show and tell the students that you took water from the faucet and put it into the ice tray. Ask what STATE OF MATTER the water was in when it came out of the faucet. Tell them that you left the water in the freezer overnight. Ask what happened to the water. Show the students the ice cube tray that was left in the freezer overnight.

2. Tell the students that today they are going to design a method that will melt their ice cube (change from a solid to a liquid) in the shortest time possible.

3. With their partner they need to agree on a method that they want to try in class. Once they come up with a method they should write their method on the top of the record sheet. Show and tell the students that each partnership will get a sealed plastic bag with an ice cube in it.

There is one rule; they are not to remove the ice cube from the bag. Each pair’s plan must be

–  –  –


Bring the students together as a whole group to discuss their observations and to compare their melting process and times. Make a chart recording the various methods and final times on the board. Discuss why different methods melted the ice faster than others.


Tell the students that they will conduct another experiment. Put the water from one of the bags into an uncovered Petri dish or cup. Ask what they think will happen to the water. Keep another bag sealed and have students predict what will happen to the water in the bag. Record the start times for both and leave them. Check them throughout the day and the next. By the next day, most if not all of the water in the Petri dish will have EVAPORATED. Ask what happened to the water in the dish. Ask if anyone has ever heard of the ATMOSPHERE. Discuss their ideas and explain that the ATMOSPHERE is the layer of GASES that surrounds a planet. What is a SPHERE? Earth’s ATMOSPHERE has many GASES and a lot of water. Discuss the WATER CYCLE taking place in the Earth’s ATMOSPHERE. Warm water on the surface of the Earth EVAPORATES, going from LIQIUD to GAS and becoming part of the ATMOSPHERE. Warm air rises; and it holds more WATER VAPOR than cold air. As warm air rises, it cools and the WATER VAPOR in the air CONDENSES changing back to a LIQUID (or sometimes SOLID ICE CRYSTALS if it is cold enough).

Discuss rain, snow and clouds.

Discuss the water in the sealed bag. Why didn’t it evaporate? Discuss how the air inside the bag is a closed system, so it doesn’t EVAPORATE into the ATMOSPHERE.

DEMONSTRATION: Three States of Water


• Hot plate or other source of heat

• A pyrex beaker or container

• Ice Cubes

• A piece of black (dark) paper


1. Put the ice in the container. Ask what STATE of MATTER the ice is in.

2. Put it on the hot plate and turn it on. Have the students predict what will happen.

3. When all the ice has melted, ask what STATE of MATTER the water is in.

4. Ask what would happen if you put the container in the freezer now.

5. Continue to heat it. Put a piece of black paper (or dark background) behind the beaker so that the steam is more visible.

6. Have the students predict what will happen.

–  –  –


Talk about how the water has just gone through three STATES of MATTER. Discuss how changing the TEMPERATURE and the STATE of MATTER are related. Explain that HEAT is a kind of ENERGY. Draw a Celsius thermometer on the board. Have the students organize the STATES of MATTER according to their temperature by tracing the transformation of the ice cube into water and then steam, teaching and reinforcing the following vocabulary along the way : SOLID, LIQUID, GAS, STATES OF MATTER, FREEZING POINT, MELTING POINT, BOILING POINT, CONDENSATION and EVAPORATION. Discuss how TEMPERATURE and STATE OF MATTER are very related. Tell them that in the next lesson they will explore why.


SONG: Tre States of Mater Using songs from the show is a very effective and fun way to reinforce each lesson. Duplicable lyric sheets can be found in the appendix of this resource guide, and all of the music can be downloaded at www.molecularium.com/teachersresources.html.

Tre States of Mater is a fun song that reinforces the most important concepts in this lesson. We strongly encourage you to download the music and have your students sing along.

You can end the day by reading one of the following books out-loud to your class:

Royston, Angela. My World of Science: Solids, Liquids and Gases. Crystal Lake, IL: Heinemann Books, 2001.

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