Big idea: Substances and properties

Materials are either made of a single chemical substance or a mixture of substances which each have distinctive properties.

"Substances and properties" is one of 15 big ideas of science in the Best Evidence Science Teaching collection. Understanding of the big idea is built up by a series of key concepts at age 11-16, which have been organised into teaching topics.

The research-informed resources for each key concept make up a progression toolkit that provides:

  • appropriately-sequenced steps for learning progression
  • diagnostic questions to reveal preconceptions and common misunderstandings
  • response activities to challenge misunderstandings and encourage conceptual development

Download teacher guidance notes for this big idea

 

 

Resources for age 11-14

Materials science topic: Properties and materials

This supplementary topic develops some introductory key concepts of materials science, and has been produced with the support of the Horners' Company Charity. 

Topic 1: Substances and mixtures

Please also have a look at the particles and structure big idea page for more key concepts in this topic.

Topic 2: Solubility

Topic 3: Acids and alkalis

Please also have a look at the chemical reactions big idea page and the Earth chemistry big idea page for more key concepts in this topic.

Topic 4: Periodic table

Please also have a look at the particles and structure big idea page and the chemical reactions big idea page for more key concepts in this topic.

 

Resources for age 14-16

Topic 5: Crude oil

  • Key concept 1
    Hydrocarbon molecules

    Resources for this key concept will be uploaded in summer 2022.
     
  • Key concept 2
    Fractional distillation

    Resources for this key concept will be uploaded in summer 2022.
     

Topic 6: Polymers

  • Key concept 1
    Polymer synthesis

    Resources for this key concept will be uploaded in summer 2022.
     

Topic 7: Quantitative chemistry

  • Key concept 1
    Amount of substance

    Resources for this key concept will be uploaded in summer 2022.
     

Is there a recommended teaching order?

The Best Evidence Science Teaching resources can be incorporated into your existing scheme of work, if desired. 

However, we have used research evidence on learning pathways and on effective sequencing of ideas to develop maps that suggest how key concepts can be sequenced to build understanding of big ideas of science. These maps can help with curriculum planning.

View the key concept map for chemistry