Kerr Mackie Primary School

Properties and Changes of Materials


Autumn 1 and 2 Science 


What’s in the bag? To start the topic, students had to identify objects within a bag by describing them and their properties. Through this activity, students were able to categorise and group materials based on common properties. This also provided an opportunity to cover new subject specific vocabulary.


This topic was driven by some key questions;

  • Why do we use certain materials to make specific things?
  • How can materials change?
  • What are reversible and irreversible changes?


Students were tasked with applying their growing confidence and knowledge of materials to complete different challenges, drawing on previous learning to consider outcomes, make predictions, plan tests, conduct tests, evaluate and conclude.


Design a Lunchbox

For one of our challenges, students were asked to design a lunchbox that would keep the food inside fresh. Students had to apply scientific thinking to determine what materials would be best at insulating the lunchboxes contents. This involved applying knowledge to make predictions based on key questions.

  • What is an insulator and conductor?
  • Do we want to conduct or insulate heat?
  • Will transparency affect the outcome?
  • What other properties would be beneficial?
  • What materials are their own lunchboxes made from? Why?


After conducting some research, students were provided with an ice-cube in which they had to wrap with their chosen material and prevent it from melting. In groups, students observed their findings over a time frame and recorded their data using tables.  



Throughout the topic students were tasked with planning and conducting fair and comparative tests. Students had to consider the variables and what would need to stay the same in order for experiments to be fair.


The practical experiments included an absorbance comparison, a thermal insulator comparison, dissolving tests and reversible and irreversible changes. Students were challenged to plan, conduct and conclude their findings which led to scientific thinking and reasoning.