Matter on the Move

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Learners observe and conduct experiments demonstrating the different properties of hot and cold materials. In a demonstration, learners observe that food coloring mixes faster in hot water than in cold. In a second demonstration, learners observe that air in a bottle expands when heated. As an activity, learners examine the behavior of air inside bottles submerged in hot and cold water. Use these experiments to introduce the molecular properties of matter and the process of phase changes. The demonstrations can also be conducted as individual activities. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Activity write-up only, images are unavailable.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Hot tap water
  • Cold water
  • Blue food coloring
  • Yellow food coloring
  • Hot water
  • Cold Water
  • 3 Wide clear plastic cups
  • 2 Tall clear plastic cups
  • 1 Wide clear plastic cup
  • Plastic bottle with lid, ½ pint or ½ liter
  • Bubble solution (made with dishwashing liquid, sugar, and water)
  • Plastic bottle, ½ pint or ½ liter
  • Student Activity Sheet


  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • States of Matter
      • Changes of Phase
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Kessler, James H. ; Galvan, Patricia M.


  • All rights reserved, American Chemical Society, 2007