Chemistry 44

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Plasma Gas Liquid Solid (Not)

So far, students have been shown that matter exists as plasma, gas, liquid, or solid. This topic begins to introduce some “not-so-cut-and-dry” categories of matter including non-classical states of matter, low-temperature states of matter, and high-energy states of matter. Students research, explore, and discuss matter which are not as easily categorized: glass, crystals with some degree of disorder, liquid crystal states, microphase-separated matter, magnetically ordered matter, degenerate matter, and superfluids.

Lesson 1 (or “Day 1”) Material
Lesson 2 (or “Day 2”) Material
Lesson 3 (or “Day 3”) Material
Lesson 4 (or “Day 4”) Material

5:09 Crystalline & Amorphous Solids

4:56 22 States of Matter

7:10 The Strange, Frictionless World of Superfluids


Compare Contrast and Debate

Kickoff Debate Background:

Most matter in the universe is in the plasma state.  ( Typically, lower grades do not currently introduce or emphasize concepts of plasma. Here are a few specific examples of plasmas:

  • Gases in discharge tubes
  • The fireball made by a nuclear weapon
  • Lightning
  • Auroras
  • Welding arcs
  • The upper atmosphere (the ionosphere)
  • Stars and the Sun
  • the solar wind
  • interstellar gas clouds
  • Comet tails


  • Position A: Concepts of plasma should be significantly better emphasized in lower grades.
  • Position B: Concepts of plasma are appropriate to defer until later grades.

Instructor Emphasis:

  • Science & Engineering Practice: Ask questions and define problems.
  • Cross-Cutting Concept: Structure and Function.