Plaster of Paris

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In this activity (page 6 of the PDF), learners will observe both a chemical and a physical change. By experimenting with plaster of paris, students will differentiate between these types of changes, and will also learn what an exothermic (energy-releasing) reaction is. Though this activity is included as a pre-visit activity for a workshop about physical and chemical changes, it also is an excellent stand-alone activity. (Because plaster of paris can reach high temperatures, this activity requires close adult supervision and safety warnings are included in the activity instructions.)

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
4 to 24 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • plaster of paris
  • styrofoam cup(s) for mixing
  • mixing utensil, such as a stir stick, popsicle stick or plastic spoon
  • water
  • object(s) to plaster, such as inflated balloons or boxes
  • newspaper cut into 2” strips
  • thermometers
  • worksheets


  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
      • Thermodynamics and Entropy
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access