The Special Properties of Water

Length: 4 Weeks
Grade Level: 7-12
Subject Areas: Chemistry, Physical Science, Earth and Space Science, including Meteorology, Oceanography, and Climatology



Project Dashboard

Key Concepts & Knowledge


Through introductory lessons, students will gain an understanding of, and the chemical basis for, water’s unique properties. They will see and appreciate how the special properties of water impact our lives on this planet and why it is the most valuable and important substance for life on Earth. In student teams, they will deeply research one or more of water’s unique properties through an interesting and relevant connection(s) of water to our lives or its importance to life on our planet. 

Sequence of Project Activities

  • Students experience the MIT BLOSSOMS video lesson, “Will an Ice Cube Melt Faster in Fresh Water or Salt Water?”
  • Students learn about “Water as the Universal Solvent” through hands-on demonstrations.
  • Students explore the “Stickiness of Water” including cohesion, adhesion, capillary action and surface tension via hands-on activities.
  • Students investigate and come to understand a phenomenon they see all around them—the high heat capacity of water.
  • Students delve into the molecular nature of ice and learn to appreciate how unique and important it is that ice floats.
  • Students split into teams to research one or more properties of water that interest them most, exploring a relevant connection between the property(s) and how it impacts our lives and communities.
  • Students utilize a wide range of sources for their research, including interviewing experts.
  • Students acquire new skills that will help them work more effectively as a team.
  • Students research their clearly defined project topic and prepare for a Lightning Talk slide presentation to the school and wider public.
  • Students complete a thoughtful reflection of their experience working on the project and working as part of a team.

Team Summative Assessment