The Mystery of Matter

The Mystery of Matter Teacher Zone

Welcome to The Mystery of Matter Teacher Zone. This part of the website includes four broad classes of educational materials for teachers.

The Mystery of Matter Teacher's Guide.  Developed by the Education Development Center, the guide is designed to help teachers make use of the three-hour PBS series The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements in the high school science classroom. The television series is divided into six sections of about 30 minutes, each one on an important subject related to matter. For each of those six sections, the Teacher’s Guide includes a full script, annotated with:

  • Stop & Think Questions for teachers to pose to their students
  • Sidebars on Everyday Applications of the chemistry being covered
  • Notes from the Field with examples of ways to incorporate the program into your teaching
  • and Margin Notes showing where in each section chemistry concepts are explored

The guide also includes a Glossary of chemical terms, a list of web-based and hands-on Activity Ideas for students, and suggested In-Depth Investigations. Each section of the guide begins with a description of how it aligns with both the National Research Council’s National Science Education Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). And each section ends with a list of Web Resources for learning more about the subject covered in that section. For still more educational resources, click on Learn More at the top of this page.

The Mystery of Matter Video Library. This is a collection of 32 short videos comprising more than five hours of original material beyond the broadcast series. The videos draw on the interviews, re-enactments, animations and photographs we shot and collected for the PBS series to explore different aspects of the story of the search for the elements. Of the 32 videos, 22 are “teacher videos” designed specifically for chemistry teachers; they cover key chemical concepts like the Periodic Table, the structure of the atom and the Conservation of Matter in more detail than we had time for in the TV series. The other 10 are “general interest” videos that do not address key chemistry concepts but may still be of interest to teachers of chemistry (and other subjects), because they show chemistry at work in social and historical context. For example, one of the videos is about Antoine Lavoisier’s role in making the gunpowder that helped America win the Revolutionary War; another is about the important role his wife, Marie Anne, played in his work.

The Mystery of Matter Clip Collection. This is the entire PBS broadcast series broken up into about 60 short clips of 1-4 minutes each. The three-hour series consists of six interconnected stories, each one focusing on one of our seven featured scientists (except Oxygen, which features two scientists: Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier.) For each of those sections, we provide a one-page table of contents with a brief description of each of about ten chapters. After reading the chapter summaries, teachers and students may instantly watch the clip that interests them simply by clicking on the chapter heading.

The Mystery of Matter Hands-On Chemistry Activities. During the production of the Mystery of Matter television series, ten science centers around the country participated in an outreach plan that allowed members of the public to learn about chemistry in entertaining ways. Led by the St. Louis Science Center, these ten institutions developed a series of 40 fun, hands-on chemistry activities, delivered them to youths in their communities and shared their experiences and insights. Although the activities were designed to be used in science museums, some of them are also suitable for use in schools. At the link above, you’ll find pdf write-ups of 22 popular activities. Each write-up includes a list of the materials that are needed (and their costs) and a field-tested procedure for performing the activity; five of the pdfs also have links to demonstration videos on YouTube. We’re pleased to make these activities available as a free resource for science educators, to be used either inside or outside the classroom.

To access each of these four sections of the Teacher Zone, simply click on the section title in red.



The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements
was produced by Moreno/Lyons Productions LLC.


Major funding for The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements was provided by the National Science Foundation, where discoveries begin. Additional funding provided by The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, dedicated to strengthening America’s future through education.

Support for the development of The Mystery of Matter project was provided by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, The Otto Haas Charitable Trust and The Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation.

Support for The Mystery of Matter website and educational applications was provided by the Wyncote Foundation,The Dreyfus Foundation and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

All support for The Mystery of Matter was administered by Filmmakers Collaborative.

The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements is a production of Moreno/Lyons Productions in association with Oregon Public Broadcasting, which are solely responsible for its content. The series was filmed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with the support of the Massachusetts Film Office.
© 2015 Moreno/Lyons Productions LLC. All rights reserved.

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