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published by the Concord Consortium
This interactive activity for grades 8-12 features eight models that explore atomic arrangements for gases, solids, and liquids. Highlight an atom and view its trajectory to see how the motion differs in each of the three primary phases. As the lesson progresses, students observe and manipulate differences in attractions among atoms in each state and experiment with adding energy to produce state changes. More advanced students can explore models of latent heat and evaporative cooling. See Related Materials for a Teacher's Guide developed specifically to accompany this activity.

This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology. The Concord Consortium develops deeply digital learning innovations for science, mathematics, and engineering.

Please note that this resource requires Java.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Technology
= Multimedia
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Atomic Models
Other Sciences
- Chemistry
Thermo & Stat Mech
- Thermal Properties of Matter
- High School
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
= Model
= Problem/Problem Set
= Tutorial
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
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- Parent/Guardians
- Educators
- General Publics
- application/java
- text/html
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© 2007 The Concord Consortium
atom simulations, atomic simulations, atomic structure, atomic/molecular, collection, evaporation, gas laws, intermolecular attractions, kinetic energy, molecular simulations, molecular structure, molecule simulations, potential energy
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created May 11, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 15, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 6-8: 4D/M1a. All matter is made up of atoms, which are far too small to see directly through a microscope.
  • 6-8: 4D/M1cd. Atoms may link together in well-defined molecules, or may be packed together in crystal patterns. Different arrangements of atoms into groups compose all substances and determine the characteristic properties of substances.
  • 6-8: 4D/M3ab. Atoms and molecules are perpetually in motion. Increased temperature means greater average energy of motion, so most substances expand when heated.
  • 6-8: 4D/M3cd. In solids, the atoms or molecules are closely locked in position and can only vibrate. In liquids, they have higher energy, are more loosely connected, and can slide past one another; some molecules may get enough energy to escape into a gas. In gases, the atoms or molecules have still more energy and are free of one another except during occasional collisions.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M3. Thermal energy is transferred through a material by the collisions of atoms within the material. Over time, the thermal energy tends to spread out through a material and from one material to another if they are in contact. Thermal energy can also be transferred by means of currents in air, water, or other fluids. In addition, some thermal energy in all materials is transformed into light energy and radiated into the environment by electromagnetic waves; that light energy can be transformed back into thermal energy when the electromagnetic waves strike another material. As a result, a material tends to cool down unless some other form of energy is converted to thermal energy in the material.
  • 9-12: 4E/H9. Many forms of energy can be considered to be either kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion, or potential energy, which depends on the separation between mutually attracting or repelling objects.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.4 Model with mathematics.

Functions (8)

Define, evaluate, and compare functions. (8)
  • 8.F.2 Compare properties of two functions each represented in a different way (algebraically, graphically, numerically in tables, or by verbal descriptions).
Use functions to model relationships between quantities. (8)
  • 8.F.5 Describe qualitatively the functional relationship between two quantities by analyzing a graph (e.g., where the function is increasing or decreasing, linear or nonlinear). Sketch a graph that exhibits the qualitative features of a function that has been described verbally.

High School — Functions (9-12)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)
  • F-IF.5 Relate the domain of a function to its graph and, where applicable, to the quantitative relationship it describes.?
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AIP Format
(The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2007), WWW Document, (
Concord Consortium: Phase Change, (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2007), <>.
APA Format
Concord Consortium: Phase Change. (2007). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from The Concord Consortium:
Chicago Format
The Concord Consortium. Concord Consortium: Phase Change. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2007. (accessed 23 February 2017).
MLA Format
Concord Consortium: Phase Change. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2007. 23 Feb. 2017 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Concord Consortium: Phase Change}, Publisher = {The Concord Consortium}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {23 February 2017}, Year = {2007} }
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%T Concord Consortium: Phase Change
%D 2007
%I The Concord Consortium
%C Concord
%O application/java

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%D 2007
%T Concord Consortium: Phase Change
%I The Concord Consortium
%V 2017
%N 23 February 2017
%9 application/java

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Concord Consortium: Phase Change:

Is Supplemented By

A teacher's guide developed specifically to accompany the "Phase Change" activity.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is a Teaching Guide For Physics Classroom: What Does Heat Do?

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