Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Chemistry: Lesson 1 Matter

Matter and Mass

Air Pressure and the Mass of Air

Matter is anything that has volume and mass. Mass is how much stuff is inside a particular material.

Does Air Have Mass?

They remembered the demonstration we did a few years back in which we first tied two identical balloons on the ends of the pole and they balanced, of course. Then I blew one of the balloons up. The pole was was very out of balance, leaning to the side of the blown-up balloon, thus proving that air does have mass.

Weight vs. Mass

We discussed the difference between weight and mass, which can sometimes be confusing, especially to younger students as everything in their experience correlates mass and weight...the more stuff there is in a substance, the more it weighs. Remind them, however, that if you were to take an object into space, where there is no weight, the object still has the same mass. Even though weight may be relative, mass never changes.


Archimedes Fun
The amount of space something takes up is its volume. We recalled the demonstration we did a few years ago in which we showed that a submerged object would displace an amount of water equal to its own volume, and we talked about Archimedes and how he discovered this concept.


Density in Nature
The discussion of volume naturally leads into another one about density. Density is how much mass is in a certain volume of matter. Density columns, in which various substances are layered on top of each other due to their density, is such a fun thing to do, that we have done this on various occasions. The boys are therefore quite familiar with the concept of density. We made a density column in which we used the various densities that things naturally have in them to make up the layers.
Layering Liquids
We also used temperature and salinity in colored water to make a density column in a straw.
Seeing Rainbows: Rainbow Density
We have also used varying amounts of sugar in colored water to make a density column in a test tube. We have also talked about density in relation to learning about fish.
Erupting Lava Bottle
We have also used the fact that Alka-Seltzer tablets don't react in vegetable oil, but they do in water, to make a wonderfully fun demonstration. When the Alka-Seltzer tablet touches the water, the chemicals react, causing a gas to form, and these gases are less dense than the oil, so they float up into the oil, causing a bubbling effect.


Buoyancy is how capable an object is of floating. We have experimented with varying amounts of water in a plastic bottle floating in a large bowl of water and how its buoyancy is affected.

Qualities of Matter

In the past, I have given the boys various mystery substances and had them try to figure out what they are by just examining the qualities of the substances.
This time, we looked at some of the many properties that things have using our rocks and minerals collection. We discussed and classified them according to their luster, or amount of shine, their color, their shape, their hardness, their smell, their density and their magnetism.

sources, inspiration and additional activities:


  1. Great review study! Weight vs. mass is a difficult concept to explain.

    1. Yes, it is but we always talk about outer space in connection with weight vs mass.

  2. We've covered these topics randomly but I love how you organized them here. Plus, your explanations are concise but precise!

    1. Thank you. I was surprised actually by how much we had covered. There isn't much chemistry left to do with them until the math skills kick in a little more.

  3. I love how you lay these out. Such a great start in chemistry.

    1. It is useful for me to write these posts actually, so that I can organize and see all the things we have covered.

    2. It helps me too for keeping track of it all.

  4. This is awesome! I think we will tag along!

    1. Oh, please do! Although, we will be taking a break until after Labor Day.

  5. I am so excited to try this. My little guy will love this. Thanks for posting this, and I'm following you now.

    1. Thank you, thank you and thank you. I hope you will see lots more that interests you.

  6. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing, it will be fun to try some of these with my younger boys :)


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