Boiling Water Simulation PhET

PhET  "Physics Education Technology," University of Colorado - Boulder

The computer simulation does show a simple mathematical based model of the three states of matter as represented by a cluster of atoms or molecules and a simple view of the transition states between the phases of matter: melting, boiling, condensation, freezing.  The vibration and movement of the atoms and molecules are not 100% "realistic" or "accurate", but it does convey a good general representation of the states of matter, especially for young students."Physics Education Technology," 

A interactive learning guide can accompany this simulation.

TITLE Intermolecular forces and states of matter


Ted Clark (The Ohio State University)

Julia Chamberlain (University of Colorado Boulder)

Curriculum Notes 

Learning Objectives (Clark and Chamberlain)

Students will be able to:  

  • Distinguish between kinetic energy (KE), potential energy (PE) and total energy.
  • Apply the terms low and high PE for objects attracted to each other.
  • Identify electrostatic interactions –  which are of great interest to chemists – as the force affecting the PE of atoms and molecules.
  • Apply the terms low and high PE for atoms attracted to each other, resulting in bonds with different bond enthalpies.
  • Describe, at the particle-level, what happens during a phase change. 
  • Apply the terms KE and PE for states of matter.
  • Connect particle-level descriptions of matter, including different phases, with macroscopic observations/properties


© Copyright 2012 Email: Randy Sullivan, University of Oregon Chemistry Department and UO Libraries Interactive Media Group