Changes in Matter–A 5th Grade Investigation

Posted by Allyson Greene at 3/9/2010 1:00:00 PM


Change can happen quickly or slowly.

This is what our fifth graders were exploring today in the Discovery lab. To reinforce learning about matter, Mrs. Weaver’s class learned how salt can create a change in the state of matter for water. By reviewing atoms, molecules and the 3 states of matter, students were then challenged to develop a plan to make ice cream using the following materials:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
  • salt
  • ice
  • 1 large and 1 small plastic bag
  • towels and spoons

Once the students shared their plans, we looked at a plan that was already proven to work. What was fascinating is that their plans were very close to the correct procedure! Nice thinking! Therefore, students combined the sugar, milk, and vanilla into the small bag and put that into a larger bag with lots of ice and special ice cream salt! A whole lot of shaking, throwing, and tossing of the bags occurred to help melt the ice, which caused a CHANGE in the state of matter between one substance to another! That is, the melting of the ice created a colder liquid, which then helped the ice cream base to loose heat and freeze into solid ice cream! Wow! That’s a lot of changing! As one of the students said, “This was a very fun way to learn!” Enjoy…and try the recipe posted below at home! What's the Plan? What is our plan? Mixing the ingredients Mixing our ingredients….. Shake, Shake, Shake Shake, shake, shake that ice cream! Some more  planning Another plan! Shaking the ingredients, hoping to create a change in matter! Testing Um…I think we need more ice and salt to produce heat….. Done yet? Is it ready yet? Yessss! Yesssss! It is ready to eat! Abby Someone is enjoying her changed state of matter! Ice Cream Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ice
  • salt
  • 1 gallon sized Ziplock bag
  • 1 pint sized Ziplock bag


  1. Place the sugar, vanilla, and milk into the pint size bag. Seal the bag, getting all of the air out.
  2. Place ice into the gallon sized bag…about half way full. Put a few handfuls of salt in with the ice.
  3. Place the smaller bag into the larger bag and seal the larger bag–get out all of the air!
  4. Shake, toss, throw, etc. the bag around as fast as you can to help create the ice cream!
  5. Try using a timer and see how long it takes to freeze! You can even check the temperature and get as close to 0 degrees/32 degrees as possible!
  6. Once the ice cream has changed into a solid state, it is time to eat it! ENJOY!