What is Matter?

The Seasons video

Matter is all around you. Your bed, your dog, even the air you breathe, are all made of matter. Matter is anything that takes up space, including gases and liquids. Matter takes on different forms, known as the states of matter. You probably already know about solids, gases and liquids, right?

Solids are, well, solid. They may be soft or hard, but you can’t easily put your hand through them. Wood, glass, fabric, and fur are all solid forms of matter. Liquids are fluid. You can generally move or pour them and put your hand through them. Water, soda, and juice are all liquids. Gases have particles that are further apart. You can put your hand through a gas or you might not be able to see it all. Steam, fog, and oxygen are gases.

Fun Facts

  • Scientists have discovered two more states of matter, Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC) and plasma. BECs are created in a laboratory by making the molecules in a gas very, very cold so they condense into a dense lump. Plasmas are made up of electrons that move around a lot instead of clustering together. The Northern Lights and neon signs are examples of plasma.
  • Scientists believe that there are more forms of matter in the universe waiting to be discovered.
  • Matter can change states. Water, for example, can be steam (a gas), water (a liquid), or ice (a solid).

Chemistry Vocabulary

Matter: Anything with weight or mass or that takes up space

States of matter:M How matter is “packaged.” We are currently aware of five states of matter.

Learn More

Visit Chem4Kids to learn more about plasma and watch a video from the University of Michigan.

Q and A

Can I make plasmas and BECs at home?

Answer: Plasmas and BECs are made under extreme conditions with very high (and low) levels of energy. They are made using special equipment. Albert Einstein predicted BECs back in the 1920s but he didn’t have the equipment to prove his ideas.