Surface Tension and Molecular Bonds
— Using Film Clips From Microcosmos
Subject: Science/Chemistry; molecules; surface tension
Ages: 10+; Middle School and High School;
Length: Film Clips: 7 minutes (in three segments); Lesson: The clips and related discussion will add about fifteen minutes to existing lesson plans.
Excerpts from the Snippet Lesson Plan
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will recall what they have learned about the structure of matter regarding atoms and molecules and their bonds. They will learn to relate it to the visible phenomenon of liquids called surface tension and the tendency of drops to acquire and conserve a spherical shape.
Rationale: The shape of drops is explained by the property of liquids called surface tension. Real examples as shown in the documentary Microcosmos are an appealing way to introduce this topic and to explain it in terms of intermolecular forces.
Description of the Film Clips: Microcosmos shows animal life at small scale with spectacular close-ups of the daily life routines of insects and other bugs. In particular, ants are shown drinking from small water drops which rest on leaves and keep a spheroidal shape apparently defying gravity.
Molecules are the way atoms of different elements combine with each other to create the substances that can be recognized by the senses, i.e., matter that people can see, touch, smell, or feel. Sometimes atoms combine to form single-atom molecules in monatomic substances, as in the case of noble gases like helium or neon. Sometimes, atoms of one element combine only with other atoms of the same element in mono-element molecules. Examples of mono-element molecules are O2 (oxygen gas) and O3 (ozone). In most cases, however, atoms combine with atoms of different elements, as in the case of water, where two atoms of hydrogen combine with one atom of oxygen to form the water molecule H2O. When atoms combine to form molecules, they build bonds that keep the molecule together unless there is an external force that breaks these bonds. . . .
[The Snippet Lesson Plan continues with an explanation of molecular bonding and how that affects whether the substance takes the form of a solid, a liquid or a gas. The Snippet Lesson Plan contains instructions on how to find the clips on the DVD as well as simple step-by-step instructions on how to use the film clips in class. It also contains links to Internet sites that offer helpful illustrations of the scientific concepts involved.]
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The film clips selected from Microcosmos provide students with interesting examples of the shapes taken by water droplets as the result of surface tension.
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