Home experiments to support remote teaching of properties of matter
Remote teaching support for 11-14 14-16 16-19
The following suggestions are intended to provide a 'flavour' of practical work while students are working at home. The suggestions consist of both simulations, which colleagues may find useful to set 'virtual practicals', and simple experiments that demonstrate basic principles. Many of the suggestions can be used across age groups with appropriate questions to test understanding. Some of these come from the Marvin and Milo resources, which cover many topics in an accessible way.
Health and Safety Guidance
These experiments have been selected by trained teachers as appropriate for use at home, but we have not specifically tested them for home use. All experiments are carried out at your own risk.
To avoid risk of injury or damage, we recommend that you follow the instructions as shown, and that a responsible adult supervises all practical activity and considers the suitability of each task for their child.
Teachers proposing to recommend any resources to their students should:
- work within safety policies established by their school;
- use their professional judgement to assess the suitability of experiments for their own students;
- direct students and their parents/guardians to follow all stated instructions.
For use with students aged 11-14:
- Ice-Water-Oil is a quick practical to demonstrate the concept of density. Alternatively, Density of ice from the Royal Society of Chemistry has a very similar method.
- Marvin and Milo's Cloud in a Glass demonstrates condensation.
- The PhET States of Matter simulation shows what is happening at a particle level for solids, liquids and gases.
- To introduce the effect of changing temperature on the gas pressure inside a container, the Cool-Coin Launcher from the Naked Scientists is a good alternative to an exploding can.
For use with students aged 14-16:
- Many density practicals can be completed at home by substituting careful use of a measuring jug for a measuring cylinder. Start by measuring the density of liquids and then consider others from the Density Practicals collection.
- More ideas are explored in the worksheet from Classroom Physics 44 (last two pages).
- PhET's Introducing Gas Laws simulation is a good starting point to consider pressure and temperature in gases.
- Marvin and Milo's Cartesian Ketchup Diver can be used to stimulate thinking about pressure in liquids.
For use with students aged 16-19:
- Strawberry laces, or similar, can be used to investigate the effect of forces in this Stretchy Sweets practical. Without lab equipment students could use coins as an alternative to standard masses, giving them something extra to consider in their evaluation.
- Using the teacher worksheets that accompany the PhET Hooke's Law simulation allows students to focus on the mathematical relationships involved.
- The American 'Teach Engineering' site has a detailed sequence of activities that include practical applications of Young's Modulus, Mechanics of Elastic Solids.
- The Materials collection includes useful explanations and diagrams that can be provided to students to accompany other resources.
- Building on the link in the section above, the PhET Gas Laws simulation includes more detail such as connections between temperature and particle velocity.