FOSS Module Summary

Course Summary – Chemical Interactions (1st Ed.)


The FOSS Chemical Interactions Course is an inquiry into the structure and behavior of matter. Students conduct experiments to observe the macroscopic transformations of matter – phase change, dissolution, reaction – and apply kinetic particle theory to explain those transformations at the microscopic level. In the process, students learn useful conventions for thinking about and communicating chemical concepts: all common matter on Earth is composed of 90 naturally occurring fundamental substances called elements; each element is represented by a unique, defining particle called an atom; atoms combine to produce all of the unique forms of matter called substances; the basic particles of substances are called molecules and compounds.

Transformations of matter are the result of energy interactions. Students will observe energy transfers associated with reactions and infer energy transfers associated with phase change. The course provides students with a diverse mix of empirical experiences with materials and theoretical models that converge to help students construct a solid basic understanding of the composition of their world and the energy interactions that maintain and transform the world.


  • Learn that all common matter on Earth is made of 90 naturally occurring elements.
  • Observe the macroscopic properties and behaviors of gas, and develop a kinetic particulate model to explain those observations.
  • Understand matter in terms of individual particles in constant motion.
  • Observe and describe the expansion and contraction of solids, liquids, and gases at the macroscopic and particle levels.
  • Understand that energy transfers to, from, and through matter when particles collide (conduction), and that energy transfers from higher-energy particles to lower-energy particles.
  • Explore the three common phases of matter-solid, liquid, and gas-and understand that phase is determined by the relationship between the particles of a mass.
  • Understand the conditions that induce substances to change from one phase to another.
  • Observe and describe the macroscopic and microscopic properties and behaviors of solutions.
  • Observe the characteristics of reactions and explain that a reaction changes initial substances (reactants) into new, different substances.
  • Use atom models and chemical formulas to demonstrate how reactants rearrange during chemical reactions to form new substances.
  • Explore the concepts of a limiting factor in chemical reactions.
  • Acquire vocabulary associated with chemical interaction concepts: matter, substance, element, periodic table of the elements, particle, atom, molecule, compound, compression, contraction, expansion, kinetic energy, energy transfer, heat, phase change, mixture, solution, dissolving, chemical reaction, and limiting factor.
  • Exercise language, social studies, and mathematics in the context of science.
  • Use scientific thinking to plan and conduct investigations, process data, and build scientific explanations: observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, relating, and inferring.

For a description of each investigation in the Chemical Interactions Course and the correlations to the National Science Education Standards, download the Course Summary PDF.

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