We’re going to study the five different states of matter: plasma, gas, liquid, solids, and BEC (Bose-Einstein Condensate). A gas becomes a plasma when it gets so hot that the collisions start to knock electrons out of atoms. The most energized state of matter is plasma, the least is BEC. We’re going to focus on solids, crystal structure and how to build your own crystal matrix. Are you ready?
You can get started by watching this video, and afterward either read more about it or start your experiments!

Scientific Concepts

  • There are five known states of matter. Bose-Einstein condensate, solids, liquids, gases and plasma.
  • All matter is made of atoms. The difference between different forms of matter is basically the energy level (motion) of the atoms.
  • Plasma is basically a very high energy gas. It is not very common on Earth but is the most common state of matter in the universe.
  • Bose-Einstein condensate is atoms at such a low state of energy that the atoms actually blend together.
  • Bose-Einstein condensate is atoms at such a low state of energy that the atoms actually blend together.
  • Bose-Einstein condensate occurs only in laboratories under outrageously cold conditions.
  • Solids are the lowest energy form of matter on Earth.
  • Solids are generally tightly packed molecules that are held together in such a way that they can not change their position.
  • The atoms in a solid can wiggle and jiggle (vibrate) but they can not move from one place to another.
  • The typical characteristics that solids tend to have are that they keep their shape unless they are broken and they do not flow.
  • Tension and compression happen when solids are bent.
  • Compression is when things get squashed together.
  • Elasticity is the ability of a solid to be stretched, twisted or squashed and come back to its original shape.
  • Atoms in a solid have a tendency to form crystals, since the molecules are pulled close together and tight they form specific patterns.

Select a Lesson

Special Science Teleclass: Chemistry
This is a recording of a recent live teleclass I did with thousands of kids from all over the world. I’ve included it here so you can participate and learn, too! (Click here if you’re looking for the more recent version that also includes Chemical Engineering.) When you think of slime, do you imagine slugs, …
The Breaking Point
If you've ever teetered on the edge of a diving board, you know that the board flexes under your weight.  The heavier you are, the more it bends.  The top of the board gets slightly stretched further than the normal length (tension) while the underside gets slightly shorter (compressed).
Moon Sand
A non-Newtonian fluid is a substance that changes viscosity, such as ketchup.  Ever notice how ketchup sticks to the bottom of the bottle one minute and comes sliding out the next? Think of viscosity as the resistance stuff has to being smeared around.
Microwaving Soap
When you warm up leftovers, have you ever wondered why the microwave heats the food and not the plate? (Well, some plates, anyway.) It has to do with the way microwaves work.
Rock Candy Crystals
Crystals are formed when atoms line up in patterns and solidify.  There are crystals everywhere — in the form of salt, sugar, sand, diamonds, quartz, and many more!
Penny Crystal Structure
The atoms in a solid, as we mentioned before, are usually held close to one another and tightly together. Imagine a bunch of folks all stuck to one another with glue. Each person can wiggle and jiggle but they can’t really move anywhere.
Laundry Soap Crystals
Can we really make crystals out of soap?  You bet!  These crystals grow really fast, provided your solution is properly saturated.  In only 12 hours, you should have sizable crystals sprouting up.
Salt & Vinegar Crystals
We're going to take two everyday materials, salt and vinegar, and use them to grow crystals by creating a solution and allowing the liquids to evaporate.  These crystals can be dyed with food coloring, so you can grow yourself a rainbow of small crystals overnight.
Eggshell Crystals
Geodes are formed from gas bubbles in flowing lava. Up close, a geode is a crystallized mineral deposit that is usually very dull and ordinary-looking on the outside.
Salt Stalactites
This is a continuation of the Laundry Soap and Rock Candy experiments, so make sure you've done those before trying this one.
Water Glass & Metal Crystals
Water Glass is another name for Sodium Silicate (Na2SiO3), which is one of the chemicals used to grow underwater rock crystal gardens. Metal refers to the metal salt seed crystal you will use to start your crystals growing.
Charcoal Crystals
Charcoal crystals uses evaporation to grow the crystals, which will continue to grow for weeks afterward.  You'll need a piece of very porous material, such as a charcoal briquette, sponge, or similar object to absorb the solution and grow your crystals as the liquid evaporates.