Lesson: Physical Changes or Chemical Reactions

Author: Erik Misner

Area: Physical Sciences

Grade Level: 8


This lesson is designed to be an interactive and fun way to learn the difference between physical changes and chemical reactions. It provides indoor and outdoor lab activities to stimulate independent student thought, and blends high- and low-tech formative assessment using a computer based board game.

After a brief video introduction to the criteria used to delineate physical changes and chemical reactions, students go outside, record, and characterize ten changes they observe in the environment. The next day, students explore ten lab stations to determine whether they are witnessing a physical change or a chemical reaction. Finally, students play Chemquest and fill out a standards-based vocabulary sheet. These provide formative and summative assessments, and help clear up any misconceptions students may be having.



Arizona Grade 8-

Strand 5- Physical Science

Concept 1- Properties and Changes of Properties in Matter

PO 1- Identify different kinds of matter based on the following physical properties:

  • States
  • Density
  • Boiling point
  • Melting point
  • Solubility

PO 3- Identify the following types of evidence that a chemical reaction has occurred:

  • Formation of a precipitate
  • Generation of gas
  • Color change
  • Absorption or release of heat


 Lesson Plan (pdf/doc)
 Indoor Lab Handout (pdf/doc)
 Outdoor Lab Handout (pdf/doc)
 Optional Chemistry Handout (pdf/doc)
 End of Unit Quiz (pdf/doc)
 Chemquest Website (pdf/doc)

 Keywords: physical changes, chemical reactions