ACS: Inquiry in Action - Properties of Materials (Lesson 1.2): Testing Materials to Learn About Their Properties

Students conduct a series of tests on different materials to learn about their properties to investigate the question: What are some of the characteristic properties of paper, plastic, and aluminum foil?


Students will develop an understanding that objects and materials can be tested to learn about their properties. Students will help plan and conduct different tests on the materials. Students will be able to explain that when testing materials to learn about their properties, all the materials need to be tested in the same way.

Key Concepts

  • Objects and materials have different characteristics or properties.
  • Testing materials can help identify their properties.
  • To compare their properties, different materials need to be tested in the same way.

NGSS Alignment

  • NGSS 2-PS1-1: Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.


  • Students test a piece of aluminum foil, plastic from a zip-closing plastic bag, and copierpaper to learn about some of their properties.
  • Students conduct tests on the materials and then help design a strength test. The pointis stressed that for a good, fair test each material needs to be tested in the same way.
  • A simulation is shown that emphasizes the point that the different properties ofmaterials are good for different uses.

Note: This lesson may work best if done over two days.


Download the Student Activity Sheet (PDF) and distribute one per student when specified in the activity. The activity sheet will serve as the Evaluate component of the 5-E lesson plan.


Science Topics
Chemistry, Matter
K-6, Educator
2nd Grade
Descriptions of PDFs

Lesson Plan (PDF) | Student Activity Sheet: Properties and Tests (PDF) | Student Activity Sheet: Strength Test (PDF) | Teacher Background (PDF) | Connections to NGSS (PDF)

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