Motion of Molecules - Intro to NGSS MS-PS1-4


In the Motion of Molecules mini unit, students plan and conduct an investigation about the motion of vanilla molecules as they diffuse through a room. They create a graph, analyze data and cite evidence of molecular motion in the gas phase. Then, they observe a Skittle and food dye in water and collect evidence to support the claim “Molecules are in motion”. Check out the first half of this mini unit as a free sample here!


Extension activities challenge students to create a stop motion video to show the movement of molecules as a Skittle shell dissolves or vanilla diffuses.

Anchor Phenomenon Ideas: Use a hot plate to warm water and cinnamon sticks or cloves. Then, set a few M&Ms on a plate with some water. Finally, share this amazing video A Boy and His Atom with your students. Record student questions as they figure out how all of these are connected to each other!

Make it Relevant: Help students make connections between the elements on the periodic table and their everyday lives. Begin each day with fun facts about a new element.

Tips and Tricks: If you have multiple students completing the vanilla investigation, your whole room will soon be scented! You can send students into surrounding (unscented) hallways to collect valid data.

This is an excellent time to review good experimental design. Talk through each investigation before students begin to make sure they reduce variables and plan to collect quantitative data.

One molecule of vanilla, C8H8O3

Spinach has 2.6mg of iron per 100 gram serving!

Enrichment Ideas: Challenge students to figure out other compounds in food they eat. You can direct kids to these excellent graphic posters about food chemistry to get started.