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written by Mark Bishop
This resource explores a useful model for the structure of matter based on simplified kinetic molecular theory. It was developed to help novice learners visualize the structure of solids, liquids, and gases as matter composed of tiny particles in constant motion. The animations help students understand how the movement of these particles is affected by temperature. The pacing of the animation allows it to be adaptable for middle school, high school, and college preparatory courses.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
General Physics
- Properties of Matter
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Atomic Models
Other Sciences
- Chemistry
Thermo & Stat Mech
- Thermal Properties of Matter
- High School
- Middle School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Model
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- General Publics
- application/flash
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Access Rights:
Free access and
Available for purchase
Digital versions of textbook are freely viewable; CD and hard-copy versions are available at a cost.
© 2009 Mark Bishop
gas particles, gases, liquids, matter, solids, states of matter
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created April 7, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
October 3, 2013 by Caroline Hall
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/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.
  • 6-8: 4D/M7a. No matter how substances within a closed system interact with one another, or how they combine or break apart, the total mass of the system remains the same.
  • 6-8: 4D/M7b. The idea of atoms explains the conservation of matter: If the number of atoms stays the same no matter how the same atoms are rearranged, then their total mass stays the same.
  • 6-8: 4D/M8. Most substances can exist as a solid, liquid, or gas depending on temperature.

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/M5. The usefulness of a model depends on how closely its behavior matches key aspects of what is being modeled. The only way to determine the usefulness of a model is to compare its behavior to the behavior of the real-world object, event, or process being modeled.

Next Generation Science Standards

Matter and Its Interactions (MS-PS1)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed. (MS-PS1-4)

Energy (HS-PS3)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (9-12)
  • Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as either motions of particles or energy stored in fields. (HS-PS3-2)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Structure and Properties of Matter (PS1.A)
  • Gases and liquids are made of molecules or inert atoms that are moving about relative to each other. (6-8)
  • In a liquid, the molecules are constantly in contact with others; in a gas, they are widely spaced except when they happen to collide. In a solid, atoms are closely spaced and may vibrate in position but do not change relative locations. (6-8)
  • The changes of state that occur with variations in temperature or pressure can be described and predicted using these models of matter. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity (3-12)
  • Phenomena that can be observed at one scale may not be observable at another scale. (6-8)
  • The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs. (9-12)
Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion). (6-8)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the relationships among its parts, therefore complex natural structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function. (6-8)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (K-12)
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. (6-8)
    • Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for real-world phenomena, examples, or events. (6-8)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)
    • Develop and use a model to describe phenomena. (6-8)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model to provide mechanistic accounts of phenomena. (9-12)
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AIP Format
M. Bishop, (2009), WWW Document, (
M. Bishop, An Introduction to Chemistry: The Structure of Matter, (2009), <>.
APA Format
Bishop, M. (2009). An Introduction to Chemistry: The Structure of Matter. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from
Chicago Format
Bishop, Mark. An Introduction to Chemistry: The Structure of Matter. 2009. (accessed 22 June 2017).
MLA Format
Bishop, Mark. An Introduction to Chemistry: The Structure of Matter. 2009. 22 June 2017 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Mark Bishop", Title = {An Introduction to Chemistry: The Structure of Matter}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {22 June 2017}, Year = {2009} }
Refer Export Format

%A Mark Bishop
%T An Introduction to Chemistry: The Structure of Matter
%D 2009
%O application/flash

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%0 Electronic Source
%A Bishop, Mark
%D 2009
%T An Introduction to Chemistry: The Structure of Matter
%V 2017
%N 22 June 2017
%9 application/flash

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Electronic References.

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An Introduction to Chemistry: The Structure of Matter:

Has Version Of The Structure of Matter: Audio Version

A version of the same resource with audio, appropriate for students with disabilities or struggling learners.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Part Of An Introduction to Chemistry: Animations

A link to the full collection of Shockwave animations in introductory chemistry authored by Mark Bishop.

relation by Caroline Hall
Accompanies An Introduction to Chemistry: The Structure of Matter and the Chemical Elements

A Power Point lecture presentation developed by the same author to accompany this animation on the Structure of Matter.

relation by Caroline Hall

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