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Matter is the "stuff" of the universe.  The material from which everything is made. 


Below are some topics we will investigate.


Solids Liquids and Gases

Solids are materials which retain their shape and size.  This type of material will be valuable in our rocket experiment.  The body, the fins and the nose of the rocket should all be made of solids because we want these parts to maintain their shape and size for the rocket to perform properly.

 Liquids are materials which flow and change shape depending on their container.  There size however stays the same.  Understanding the nature of liquids will be critical because our rockets use a liquid propellent.



Gases are materials that are very flexable and can change both their shape and size.  We use gas when we pressurize the rockets with air (a mixture of gases) in order to push the water out of the rocket and create the thrust needed for launch.



Mixtures, Compounds and Elements

Mixtures are forms of matter containing a variety of materials which retain their individual properties.  Birdseed is a good example. Although birdseed in given one name, it is not one thing.  Birdseed typically contains a variety of different seeds. Each type of seed has its own unique color, texture, size, shape,etc.  Another characteristic of a mixture is a lack of specifc ratios of components.  With regard to the birdseed, wheather there are 5 sunflower seeds or 10 sunflower seeds in a small sample does not matter.  Both samples would be considered birdseed.

 Compounds are forms of matter which are pure substances which contain two or more different elements.  Common examples are water H20 and salt NaCl.  Here the ratio of the substances plays a critical role.  Change H20 to HO and you have a completely different compound which will have completely different properties.


Elements are pure substances that can not be broken down further by chemical means.  Pure elements have a single set of properties (color, texture, density etc.)  Because there are many to choose from (around 80 naturally occuring, 112 if you include laboratory formed versions) and they each have unique properties we can select the individual element of choice for use in society or in our rocket project.



 The structure of the atom

The atom is the smallest piece of an element that retains the properties of that element.  We learn in class that the atom is made of protons neutrons and electrons.  The protons and neutrons are found in the center of the atom bound together in a region called the nucleus.  the electrons orbit the nucleus at different distances from the nucleus.  We call these regions shells and each sheel contans a varity of orbitals where the electrons cay be found. 

In addition, we learn there is a specific atom for every element. This atom has a specific number of protons and neutrons (although nuetrons can vary a bit resulting in isotopes).  We also learn that a neutral atom of each element contains the same number of electrons as there are protons in the nucleus of the atom and that the electrons build from smaller closer shells to larger more distant shells.