Elementary Inquiry Questions

Q: Is an "empty" PET bottle really empty?

Gr. 5 students are exploring matter in their science unit as part of the Unit of Inquiry "How the World Works." They started by exploring what solids, liquids, and gases are and discussed atoms and molecules. They learned solids, liquids, and gases are different states of matter, and sometimes matter can be invisible. The students learned this the hard way with their experiment with onions. Why does chopping an onion make us cry? Well, that's because onions produce a chemical substance that stimulates the nerves around our eyes, which triggers a tear response. This reaction helps to rinse the irritant and protect our eyes. But can you see this substance creating this reaction?

They also tested the concept of "empty" with a PET bottle and a balloon. If they can blow up the balloon by pushing the sides of the PET bottle, does that mean there is something inside the bottle? Or is the bottle really empty?

Through these experiments, they learned that even though we cannot see them, tiny particles are all around us, and they can have an effect on us and the world. 

They are investigating and deepening their understanding of the property of matter while learning to conduct various experiments more independently, following the scientific process from making predictions to recording their observations. Watch the video to see some of their experiments.