Australian Curriculum: Grades 5 & 6

Maximum Students: 54 (2 groups of 27)

Program Times: Weekdays 10am – 2pm (or as negotiated)

Due to the nature of this program, at this stage we are unable to offer it as outreach.

Change Detectives provides Grade 5 and 6 students with an introduction to a chemistry laboratory. Whilst participating in an engaging hands-on experience, students learn about the following concepts; the three states of matter (solid / liquid / gas), signs of a chemical change and reversible versus irreversible changes. The program provides excellent support to Primary Connection’s Change Detectives unit.

In the Freezing, Boiling and Burning session students learn about particles and the difference between physical and chemical changes. Students witness real-life examples of change such as air particles moving closer together until they change to liquid air! Students also witness a kettle boiling with liquid nitrogen at -196oC and chemical reactions which produce heat, gas, different colours, loud noises, flames and new substances. Digital data probes are used to display the temperature on iPads and the interactive white board. In small groups, students conduct various hands-on experiments in the laboratory and act as change detectives by identifying the signs of a chemical change.

In the Mystery Substances Forensic Laboratory session, students work together in pairs to solve various mystery cases by identifying signs of a chemical change. Students play the role of a forensic scientist whereby they perform experiments with test-tubes, chemicals and Bunsen burners. The mystery cases are presented to the students via an interactive app on the iPad or laptop computer and all data is entered through the iPad or laptop computer. Students witness the power of chemical changes with the launching of the CO2 rocket and the mentos-cola fountain.

Key Learning Outcomes:


  • Classify materials as solids, liquids, or gases based on their observable properties and the way they behave.
  • Change the state of a material by melting, freezing, dissolving, burning or rusting it.
  • Compare and classify different types of observable changes to materials as reversible or irreversible.
  • Use tables to organise data from their experiments.
  • Use patterns in their data to suggest explanations and refer to their data when they report findings.

Learning Standards (Australian Curriculum):

Change Detectives demonstrates the learning addressed through Grade 5 & 6 of the Australian curriculum standards.  In particular, it addresses:

Science Understanding

  • Solids, liquids and gases have different observable properties and behave in different ways.
  • Changes to materials can be reversible, such as melting, freezing, evaporating; or irreversible, such as burning and rusting.

Science as a human endeavour

  • Science involves testing predictions by gathering data and using evidence to develop explanations of events and phenomena.
  • Scientific understandings, discoveries and inventions are used to solve problems that directly affect peoples’ lives.

Science inquiry skills

  • Use equipment and materials safely, identifying potential risks.
  • With guidance, plan appropriate investigation methods to answer questions or solve problems.
  • Identify questions and problems that can be investigated scientifically and make predictions based on scientific knowledge.
  • Construct and use a range of representations, including graphs, keys and models to represent and analyse patterns or relationships.
  • Communicate ideas, findings and solutions to problems using scientific language and representations using digital technologies as appropriate.