Ghost Particles

When something is too small to be seen, is it still matter? Make the conceptual leap from the macroscopic to the microscopic while learning about neutrinos and why they are so difficult to detect.

Curriculum module tags

Grade level

Content area

Time required

Minimum of six 55-minute sessions

Curriculum module media

Human sihouette tiny under bright night sky

What happens to matter when it becomes too small to see? Is it still matter? Can we define its properties? How do we know it exists? During this unit students explore these questions as they begin to build mental models of objects too small to be seen-- starting with matter they can see and finishing by bringing together scale, proportion, and quantity to construct an explanation for why SURF must build very large detectors to make a neutrino ‘visible’.

Recommended for students in grades 5-6.

Ghost Particles-- Structure and Properties of Matter

Curriculum Standards

  • 3-5- ETS1-1

    Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or want that includes specific criteria for success and constraints on materials, time or cost.

  • 3-PS2-3

    Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.

  • 5-PS1-1

    Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen.

  • 5-PS1-2

    Measure and graph quantities to provide evidence that regardless of the type of change that occurs when heating, cooling, or mixing substances, the total weight of matter is conserved.

  • 5-PS1-3

    Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.