Some students draw liquid particle diagrams with a regular pattern

Properties of Matter


The patterns may be similar to patterns in solids but with more space between some of the particles.

Diagnostic Resources

The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.

For more information, see the University of York BEST website.

Resources to address this

  • Kinetic theory: two-dimensional model  (11-16)

    Ref - Practical Physics; Molecules in motion; Physical models for kinetic theory ;
    Kinetic theory: two-dimensional model

    1. Shake the tray in a random motion, on the table.
    2. To model a solid: Tilt the tray so the marbles are at the bottom and the marbles are able to vibrate but not change places.
    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Adbo, K. and Taber, K. S., () Learners' Mental Models of the Particle Nature of Matter: A study of 16-year-old Swedish science students, International Journal of Science Education, 31 (6)


    Review sheet

  • Adadan, E., Irving, K. E. and Trundle, K. C. () Impacts of Multi-representational Instruction on High School Students' Conceptual Understandings of the Particulate Nature of Matter, International Journal of Science Education, 31 (13),


    Review sheet

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