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Material Magic Unit Share
Mystery 3 of 5
Why are so many toys made out of plastic?
Mystery 3 image
Why are so many toys made out of plastic?
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Discuss:

Say you wanted to make a bunch of lion-shaped popsicles.

How do you think popsicle companies make lots of copies, without having to carve each one?

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Discuss:

Why do you think toy companies started using plastic instead of wood? What do you think might be so special about plastic?

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Discuss: (1/2)

Can you think of any other materials with this property? What else melts besides ice, plastic, metal, and glass?

For a hint, go to the next slide...

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Hint:

Is there anything you eat that melts?

Here is what we thought of...

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Discuss: (2/2)

Some candy melts. How can you test different kinds of candy to find out which kinds melt and which kinds don’t?

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Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading, and extension activity in the extensions.

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Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration which you just completed.

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Readings

These readings are free with registration on ReadWorks, a nonprofit committed to providing teachers with research-proven, Common-Core-aligned readings. All readings include comprehension questions.

  • Colorful Crayonstells how crayons are made, starting with melted wax.
  • Breakfast Timedescribes how some breakfast foods change when they’re heated.
  • A Camping Tripdescribes how marshmallows change when they are roasted over a fire.
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Picture discussion: The Big Stretch

How did this glass bottle get so stretched? Watch the glass video on the next slide for a clue.
stretchbottle

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Videos

Metal and glass are meltable. But to turn these materials from solid to liquid, you have to get them really really hot.

  • Glass melts 1: With a hot flame, this glass blower makes a glass tube soft enough to stretch.
  • Glass melts 2: A skilled glass worker shapes a horse out of hot glass.
  • Metal melts: Aluminum melts to make a shiny liquid that you can pour.
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Online Simulation

Exploring the properties of materials with simulations doesn't substitute for hands-on experiments, but it can help reinforce & expand students' knowledge.

An online simulation from the BBC lets students experiment by melting butter, candle wax, and other materials.

This is most appropriate for students who understand the concept of temperature, realizing that a higher temperature means that something is hotter. Students can observe that different materials melt at different temperatures. (They have different melting points).

Just like the materials in the simulation, the candies that students tested have different melting points.

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Exploration
doll by Gabby , used under CC BY
legos by Priwo , used under CC BY
superman toy by JD Hancock , used under CC BY
toy car by Emi Yañez , used under CC BY
old photo by Grandview This Week
blocks by Josh Wedin , used under CC BY
horse by Garrison Gunter , used under CC BY-SA
wood car by Collectie Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen , used under CC BY-SA
carving video by Gene Messer , used under CC BY
wooden lion by Ostheimer Toys , used under CC BY
xacto knife by Just plain Bill
zoo pops by World Wonders , used under CC BY
ice cubes by Liz West , used under CC BY
Ice cube melting by HeyHondo , used under CC BY
ice cube tray by Leif Maxfield , used under CC BY
yeti ice tray by Fred & Friends , used under CC BY
holding ice by AppleSister , used under CC BY-SA
wood by Elke Wetzig , used under CC BY-SA
Edmund Parkes by Barraud , used under CC BY
flask by Databese Center for Life Science , used under CC BY
zombie plastic soldiers by Scientifical Hamster , used under CC BY
army man by davidd , used under CC BY
dinosaur mold by Ron's Rescued Treasures , used under CC BY
lego man by sprout_labs , used under CC BY
Activity
mailbox by CGP Grey , used under CC BY
sign by Richard Leonard , used under CC BY
truck driving by Per , used under CC BY-SA
melting chocolate bar by Shizhao , used under CC BY-SA
caramel by Rainer Zenz , used under CC BY-SA
gummy bears by David O'Hare , used under CC BY
starburst candy by Evan-Amos
Overview
Grade 2nd
Topic Properties & Phases Of Matter
Focus Heating, Cooling, & Phases of Matter
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this Mystery, students learn about melting, about the solid and liquid states of matter, and then discover why plastic was invented. In the activity, Candy Melt, students conduct an investigation to determine which types of candy melt in hot water. Using their observations, they decide which candy is the best choice to bring to a hot summer camp.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Coolers
To keep the water warm. You can line a cardboard box with bath towels to create a homemade cooler.
Details
1 cooler
Rulers
Used to keep the candy submerged in warm water. Popsicle stick or spoon will also work.
Details
30 rulers
Candy Variety 1 (Ex: Gummy Bears)
Candy with a low melting point. Gummy worms or other gelatin based candies work
Details
5 fun-size packs
Candy Variety 2 (Ex: Starburst)
Candy with a medium melting point. Caramels or Butterscotch Chips work
Details
1 11-oz bag
Chocolate Chips
May melt and re-solidify en-route. Still usable. A square of chocolate works too.
Details
6 ounces
Plastic Containers w/ Lids
Will be used to hold hot water.
Details
15 containers
Thick Paper Plates (10 inch)
These plates are used for insulation so thin plates won't work. Styrofoam plates also work.
Details
15 plates
Ziploc Bags (Sandwich Size)
Snack size Ziploc bags also work.
Details
30 bags
Testing Candy for Camp Way-Too-Hot printout Print 30 copies
Prep Instructions

We recommend students work in pairs for this activity. Homeschool students can work alone, but will need to test all the different types of candy on their own.

You will need a source of hot water for this activity and a way to keep the containers of hot water warm. You can either use a cooler or create your own insulator using a cardboard box and bath towels.

Prepare the Candy

You need to fill the Ziploc bags with candy before class. This will take about 20 minutes.

  1. Count out one Ziploc bag per student.
  2. For half of those bags, put 12 chocolate chips (or a small square of chocolate) in each.
  3. Divide the remaining bags into three groups: “A,” “B,” and “C.”
  4. Put a few pieces of Candy Variety 1 with a low melting point (gummy bears or gummy worms) into each “A” bag. Put a few pieces of Candy Variety 2 with an intermediate melting point (Starburst, caramels, or butterscotch chips) into each “B” bag. Put a few pieces of Candy Variety 3 with a high melting point (jelly beans, gumdrops, or Swedish Fish) into each “C” bag.
  5. When you hand out the Ziploc bags to your students, make sure that each pair of students gets a bag of chocolate and a bag of either group “A,” “B,” or “C” so they can compare the melting point of chocolate to one of the other candy types.

Note: For a fair test, try to keep the amount of chocolate and candy in each bag consistent.

Homeschool students will need 4 Ziploc bags. One bag with chocolate chips, one with high melting point candy, one with medium melting point candy, and one with low melting point candy.

Prepare the Hot Water

When students do the activity, the water needs to be hot to the touch — a little above body temperature. You can fill the containers with hot water up to 3 hours before you do the activity, as long as you have a way to keep them insulated.

  1. Start with water that’s hot enough to make a cup of tea (about 180° F or 82°C).
  2. Fill each container about halfway with the hot water. Place the lid on top of each container.
  3. Put the containers in a cooler (or line a cardboard box with some thick bath towels and wrap the containers up to keep them warm).

Prepare the Results Chart

At the end of the activity, we suggest that you gather all student results from their Candy Melt experiment and record it on the board for everyone to see. Below is an example of the chart that you can write on the board either before class or while the Exploration video is playing.

Candy Melt Table

Overview
Grade 2nd
Topic Properties & Phases Of Matter
Focus Heating, Cooling, & Phases of Matter
Extensions