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Water is often the example we use when teaching about states of matter. Water is a ‘normal’ liquid or a Newtonian fluid. Some liquids behave quite differently to water. They are called non-Newtonian fluids. These liquids, like honey or custard, change their behaviour when they are under stress or strain.

This teaching unit uses the science ideas and concepts featured in the Strange liquid resources. It is activity-based, using hands-on examples to explain/explore these concepts.

The learning outcomes of this teacher resource are that students will understand that:

  • everything that has mass is made up of matter, there are five states of matter and matter can change states
  • liquids have properties that classify them as liquids
  • viscosity is a measure of a liquid’s resistance to flow
  • Newtonian liquids behave in a given way and non-Newtonian liquids change their viscosity or flow under pressure or force
  • scientists use properties like viscosity to help them solve real-world problems.

Students will meet these objectives by:

  • using drama to identify the properties of matter
  • experimenting with various liquids to observe their properties
  • working with non-Newtonian fluids to experience how their viscosity is changed by stress or force
  • viewing how a scientist and two students use non-Newtonian fluids in their scientific investigations.

Download the unit plan (see link below).

    Published 12 April 2011