States Of Matter

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Matter is all around us. Matter is what things are made of.

It possesses two fundamental properties-

  1. MASS – Mass is defined as the amount of matter in an object. A small object like a piece of iron may have a lot of mass, whereas a large gas-filled balloon will not! There is a difference between weight and mass of an object. Mass is the measure of matter in an object, whereas weight is a measure of gravity’s pull on an object.
  2. VOLUME – Volume is the amount of space that something occupies. Different states of matter will occupy spaces in different ways, hence have different volumes.

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Classification

We have discussed in the lesson on Atomic theory that matter is made up of tiny units or particles known as atoms. A group of two or more atoms combines to form a molecule. A molecule can be the atoms of the same element or a combination of different elements.

For e.g. two atoms of oxygen combine to form a molecule of oxygen gas. Two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen combine to form a molecule of water. Thus, a glass of water will contain millions of water molecules.

 Based on how these molecules are arranged in it, matter can exist mainly in four states –

  1. SOLID FORM –The molecules in solids are held closely together in an organized structure. Matter in solid state has a definite shape and volume. They cannot be compressed.
  1. LIQUID FORM – The molecules in a liquid are separated and they can move around. Matter in its liquid state always takes the shape of its container, but its volume remains the same.

3. GASEOUS FORM – Unlike solids and liquids, gas molecules take the entire volume of the container they are kept in. The molecules are well-separated and they can move freely. Matter in its gaseous state can change its volume and shape. It takes up the space of its container.

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The following table summarizes their basic characteristics –

  1. PLASMA – It is the fourth state of matter and is a subset of gases. When energy is added to a gas, the atoms get excited and electrons separate out. The positively charged nuclei called ions roam freely creating a state of matter called plasma. Plasma is seen in nature in stars (including our sun), lightning, tail of a comet, Earth’s ionosphere among others. More details will be shared as you grow a little more!

CHANGE IN STATES

Matter can be changed from one state to another by heating or cooling it. Let’s take the example of water.

The various processes by which we can change the state of water are-

MELTING –

When matter changes from solid to liquid form, it is called melting. This happens when the temperature around it rises. For e.g. when you take an ice cube out of the freezer and heat it, or let it be at room temperature, it changes into liquid water eventually due to increase in the surrounding temperature. Similarly, when you take out ice cream from the fridge or heat butter, they start to melt.

SOLIDIFICATION –

Solidification is the opposite of melting. When we take water and put it in an ice tray that goes into the freezer, the liquid water solidifies into (solid) ice. This happens when the surrounding temperature dips around the matter. Try making a fruit (solid) popsicle today by freezing some of your favorite (liquid) juice!

Metals are cast into shapes by melting and solidifying processes. They are first melted at high temperatures, poured into a mold of desired shape and cooled. Once they solidify, they are removed from their molds.

EVAPORATION –

When matter changes from liquid to gas under the influence of high temperature, it is known as evaporation. Evaporation is an integral part of the water cycle and it involves the formation of water vapor from various sources of water like the oceans and rivers. We can see evaporation in the form of steam (water vapor) when we boil water! In fact, evaporation takes place at all times but its rate depends on the surrounding temperature. The higher the temperature, the quicker it would be. Did you know drying of clothes is an example of evaporation?

CONDENSATION –

Condensation is the opposite of evaporation that causes matter in a gaseous state to turn into liquids. It is seen when the matter in the gaseous state is cooled. When you cover some boiling water, droplets of water appear on the lid which is formed from the condensation of steam or water vapor. When a cold can is kept at room temperature, the warm air hits the cold surface, which condenses the water vapor present in the air. They condense and appear on the can as droplets of water.

Anything that has mass and takes up space is called matter. It is found all over the Universe, out of which we see some of their states on Earth. We will probably discover more states of matter as the Universe continues to be explored more and more.

Check Point

  1. In ________, the molecules are tightly packed that gives them a definite shape.
  2. Popsicles are formed when liquid is turned into solid by a process called _______.
  3. The drying of clothes is an example of __________.
  4. _________ is the fourth state of matter that comprises of ions.
  5. Dew drops in the morning are an example of ____________ of atmospheric water vapor.

Answer Key

  1. Solids
  2. Freezing
  3. Evaporation
  4. Plasma
  5. Condensation

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