GED 2002 Teachers' Handbook of Lesson Plans

Activity Title - Understanding Matter and its Physical and Chemical Changes

Area/Skill – Science, LA Reading and Writing

Cognitive Skill Level – Comprehension, Analysis, and Evaluation

Activity Title - Understanding Matter and it's Physical and Chemical changes


Understanding matter and the physical and chemical changes of matter.

Lesson Outline

All substances change from one phase to another when temperature is raised or lowered to certain points.


Students will make their own ice cream while observing liquid turning into a solid. Students will notice the liquid substance changing from room temperature to the freezing point. Each student is given a copy of the "Home Made Ice Cream in a Baggie" experiment. Recipe is attached.

Debriefing/Evaluation Activity

Have students discuss the freezing point of water (melting point of ice) is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 degrees Celsius. The boiling point of water (condensation point of steam) is 212 degrees F, or 100 degrees Celsius. Have students discuss vocabulary words and how they apply to the experiment as well as everyday life.


Materials, Texts, Realia, Handouts

  • Paper & pencil
  • Calculator
  • Recipe contents: evaporated milk, salt, Regular milk, sugar, vanilla extract, ice, gallon Ziploc bag, sandwich Ziploc bag, plastic or paper cup, spoon.
  • Plastic bags for clean-up, and papertowels

Extension Activity

Students can be divided into groups and each group can make one bag of ice cream or each student can make his/her own personal bag depending on budget. Students can calculate the amount of ingredients needed for each student by multiplying the number of students by each needed ingredient using the CX 260 calculator. Students should write the vocabulary words and learn their definitions.

ESE Accommodations

Provide all ingredients for ice cream. Provide recipe for ice cream.

Real-Life Connection

Any substance that occupies space and has mass is "matter". Our home, our beds, chairs, pens, and pencils are all composed of matter. Even the air we breathe is composed of matter. All substances change from one phase to another. When we cook we have changed food from one phase to another.

Area/Skill – Science, LA Reading and Writing

Cognitive Skill Level – Comprehension, Analysis, and Evaluation

Activity Title - Understanding Matter and it's Physical and Chemical changes


Ask: What is Matter?
Say: Anything that has mass and takes up space.
Ask: What is the freezing point of water?

Have students write a short paragraph explaining the difference between a physical change and chemical change. Explain vocabulary words to students.

Main Activity

Write down the following vocabulary words and the definitions on the board: matter, solid, liquid, gas, physical change, chemical change, melting point, boiling point, freezing point.


Ask: Can you use the lessons we learned in Science in your everyday life?
Say: Questions on the GED test will ask you to use your science skills.

Follow-up Lessons/Activities


ice cream

Plastic Bag Ice Cream

ice cream cone

This activity is a good supplement to a lesson on dairy farming and dairy products. Ice cream can be made in the classroom using the priniciple that adding salt to the ice between the plastic bags lowers the freezing point of water. Heat energy is transferred easily from the milk through the plastic bag to the salty ice water causing the ice cream mixture to freeze and the ice to melt.

Materials Needed (per group of 4)
Teacher's Materials (per group of 4):

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup rock salt
4 plastic spoons
1 gallon ziploc freezer bag
1 quart ziploc freezer bag
large spoon
measuring cup
duct tape
4 paper sundae cups, 8 oz.

1 cup 2% milk
1 cup whipping cream or half & half
Flavorings as desired
cloth towels or mitts


  1. Set up the milk, whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar in an assembly line process for students to help reduce congestion.
  2. Add 1 cup milk, 1 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup sugar (4 tablespoons), and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla to a 1 quart Ziploc freezer bag for each group. Squeeze out any remaining air, seal tightly and use a strip of duct tape to double-seal the Ziploc end of the bag.
  3. Students will place the quart Ziploc bag with the ice cream ingredients inside a 1 gallon Ziploc bag. Pack ice around the small bag and add the rock salt and 3/4 cup water. Squeeze out any remaining air in the 1 gallon bag, seal the Ziploc, and then double-seal the end using the duct tape.
  4. Students should carefully shake the bags between their hands while protecting their hands with cloth towels or mitts. This should be done until you can see that the ice cream is frozen.
  5. The outer bag can be opened by each group and the ice and salt discarded. Rinse the outside of the bag containing the ice cream ingredients prior to dividing the ice cream into sundae cups for the students to eat.
  6. Eat the ice cream plain or with your favorite toppings and enjoy. Caution: Students who are allergic to milk or milk products should not eat the ice cream. Use the large spoon to serve the ice cream.
  7. Clean up all laboratory equipment and discard paper sundae cups and plastic spoons.

Margaret Flint, Houston Community College

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