Makers Club - Temperature Lesson 4 – Piper


Lesson Time:
45 to 60 minutes



Sensors connected to the Piper Computer Kit provide students with educational hands-on experience that integrates environmental sensory data with unparalleled coding and story adventures.

The Sensor Explorer projects and lessons feature three sensors that you wire up to the Piper Computer. Students will then be guided through character-driven story narratives while using game-like StoryMode to learn how decisions impact final outcomes within three unique StoryMode world puzzles and problems. Coupled with the game experience in StoryMode, students will have fun extending their coding skills using PiperCode while collecting real-world data using the 3 sensors.

IIn this lesson, students will deepen their understanding of the states of matter by examining in detail how the movements of particles affect phase change in matter. They will explore the phases of matter using StoryMode: TerraSense, and will use the Piper computer and sensors to model phase change. Finally, students will examine how the transfer of energy, as it relates to water, causes phase changes.





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In this lesson, students will deepen their understanding of the states of matter by examining in detail how the movements of particles affect phase change in matter. They will use the Piper computer and sensors to model and examine phase change in StoryMode TerraSense.






Explore phase changes based on energy transfer.



Identify how energy transfer to and from a system results in changes to particle motion.


Relate phase changes in water to the water cycle.



Understand the relationship between phase changes and climate.



Ensure students have access to (or you print out copies of) the Lesson 2 graphic organizer.


Teacher-led Discussion (5 minutes)

Recall: Identify the phases (states of matter) in the water cycle

Return to the KWL chart from Lesson 1. Have students identify what they now know from learning in lessons 1-3. Have students provide new insights to fill out your updated KWL.


Using this diagram, have students identify the state of water for each part of the water cycle that they explored in Lessons 1-3.


Note: A copy of this diagram can be found in Slide 2 of the Lesson 4 Slide Deck.


Tell students:

"Now we’re going to dive more into the phase change aspect. See if the exploration reminds you of anything that we’ve learned in the previous lessons."


Makers Club - Temperature Lesson 4

Explore: The Properties for each State of Matter (30-40 minutes)

Tell students:

“We’ve learned about the water cycle, temperature and states of matter. A phase is a state of matter, so we will be exploring how water changes between states during what we call phase changes.”


Have students play the Temperature Sensor StoryMode level called TerreSense, which is the last level in the StarLab Mission series on the Piper Computer Kit StoryMode software. As they play, encourage students to record their observations in their Graphic Organizer.

Note: During StoryMode, students follow Pip and PiperBot to a planet where a magical wrench can change the environment. In the physical world, they will measure the temperature of objects in order to transfer energy to or from a system and cause a change in the state of water. Their use of the sensor will be similar to the Ther-mood-stat PiperCode project they completed in Lesson 2. You will need to provide students with something cold to measure. For something warm they can rub their hands together. ***Be sure to remind students to not submerge the sensor in any liquid.


Explain (10-15 Minutes)

Use the Lesson 4 slides to answer the question: What states did you change as phase changes occurred?


Tell students the following (either on the whiteboard or verbally): Temperature is a measure of kinetic energy and transferring energy can cause a phase change.


Ask students the following questions using the slides:

1. What was happening to the water on TerreSense when you measured a cold object?

  • The world became ice.
  • Misconception: We added cold to the world.
  • Answer: We transferred energy (heat) from the system which reduced particle motion and reduced the temperature of the water. This made it change states.

2. What happened when you measured a warm object?

  • The ice melted.
  • Misconception: We added water to the world.
  • Answer: We transferred energy (heat) to the system which sped up particle motion and increased the temperature of the water. This made it change states.

3. Why didn’t the house evaporate when you added energy to the world?

  • Misconception: The energy didn’t affect the house.
  • There was not enough energy transferred to the house to change the house’s material from solid to liquid to gas. Different materials require different amounts of energy/heat to change phases. It is clear that the house’s materials required more heat!


Following these slides, have students complete the table in their Graphic Organizer. Review the answers shown below and discuss the questions as a class:

Makers Club - Temperature Lesson 4

Have students Think, Pair, Share for the following StoryMode reflection question:

How did changing the climate in the game impact the environment in the world? How does that relate to the environment on earth?


Apply: An introduction to the Composition of Matter

After students have played the StoryMode level and discussed the phase changes they observed, you can ask them the following questions to elaborate:

  • Why is it just water that changes from gas to liquid in the water cycle?
  • POTENTIAL ANSWER: Matter changes phases at different temperatures.
  • Below is a diagram of the composition of our air
Makers Club - Temperature Lesson 4
  • How much of the air we breathe is water?

Use the table below to answer the following question: Why wouldn’t nitrogen, oxygen, or carbon dioxide condense in the water cycle?

POTENTIAL ANSWER: Matter changes phases at different temperatures, so it would take a lot lower temperature to cause a phase change for oxygen and nitrogen.


Makers Club - Temperature Lesson 4

Closing/Reflection Activity (10-15 Minutes)

Explain to students how temperature, states of matter, and phase changes interact to create the water cycle. Use the diagram from the engagement part of this lesson and the diagram from Lesson 1 to help guide students as you explain.


Ask students to write answers to the following reflection questions then discuss as a class:

  • How did our tools help us explore this topic?
  • How can we use technology to monitor climate change/natural disasters?
  • What can we do to prevent the climate from changing more?


Optional: Provide this optional assignment to students in class or for homework to assess their understanding: Additional Assignment: TS Lesson 4.

To evaluate understanding, have students complete the following Summative Assessment on the different properties for each state of matter.