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Activity: Matter Concept Map
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas
Table of Contents


  • Cards with basic chemical terms 
  • Tape
  • Large sheet of paper
  • Markers
  • Fig. 1.2
  • Fig. 1.3
  • Table 1.1


Fig. 1.2.  A concept map created using the words moon, tides, wave, and ocean. Words are connected with arrows and words. Linking words form sentences between terms for example, “Tides are a type of Wave”.

Image by Byron Inouye

  1. Concept maps are used to describe patterns and connections between ideas (Fig. 1.2). Create a concept map of basic chemical terms.
    1. Before looking at Fig. 1.3 or Table 1.1, organize the basic chemical term cards in a concept map in a way that makes sense to you.
    2. Look at the pictures in Fig. 1.3. Referring to the pictures of different types of matter, rearrange your concept map as necessary.


    3. If needed, refer to Table 1.1 for definitions of basic chemical terms. Use this information to finalize your concept map.
    4. Secure your card arrangement to a large sheet of paper with tape.
    5. To show the relationship between two terms, draw arrows between the terms. Write linking words on the arrows to create a short sentence.
  2. Share your concept map with your class.


Activity Questions
  1. How did you create your concept map? What steps did you take to reach your final product?
  2. What information—terms, pictures, or definitions—did your group find the most valuable when creating your concept map? Why?
  3. Which types of matter were easy to categorize or define visually? Which types of matter did you need more than visual information to categorize?
  4. After viewing your classmate’s concept maps, did you discover any new ways of organizing matter categories? If after the class discussion you wanted to modify your original concept map, describe how you would rearrange your terms.
  5. Can matter change from one category to another? For example, can a compound change to an element? How would you test your prediction?
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.