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PhET Interactive Simulations


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Physics

Resource Type

  • Interactive Media

Regional Focus


States of Matter Interactive Simulation

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  • This interactive simulation allows students to explore the three states of matter and their properties.
  • Students can change the temperature, pressure, and volume of a gas, and observe the corresponding phase changes through animated diagrams.
  • Students can also explore interaction strength between atoms with the Lennard-Jones potential graph.
Teaching Tips


  • This resource allows students to practice self-efficacy by constructing their understanding of the states of matter through exploration.
  • There are both animations and graphical simulations, and the simplicity allows for a wide range of lessons at different skill levels.

Additional Prerequisites

  • PhET can run on Windows Systems (Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Google Chrome) and Macintosh Systems (macOS 10.13+, Safari 13+), preferably on the most updated browsers. Android and Linux systems are not officially supported. Browser extensions may need to be disabled if issues arise.
  • Teachers will need to prepare specific instructions on how to engage with the simulation to maximize learning.
  • Teachers can create a free account to access a teacher tips document, video primer, and numerous activities submitted by other teachers in alignment with the simulation.
  • The simulation is translated into numerous other languages and some of these have translated teaching tips as well.


  • Middle school students can use this simulation to learn about the states of matter, particle motion, thermal energy, and temperature.
  • High school students can focus more on exploring the phase diagrams and interaction potential graphs.
  • This resource is great for virtual or blended learning. Teachers can provide guiding questions and then let students explore on their own.
  • This simulation could be explored individually or in groups depending on the availability of devices and the skill level of students.
  • If devices for students are not available, teachers can use the simulation as a demonstration by projecting it. Students can still participate by suggesting changes to make in the system, answering questions posed by the teacher, drawing diagrams, and taking notes.
  • This resource can be connected to climate change by exploring the properties of water vapor, which is an important greenhouse gas.
Scientist Notes
This interactive simulator is appropriate for students to navigate to gain insights into the process of states of matter. The simulator is up-to-date and the iteration process is valid. Thus, this resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science and Engineering
    • PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
      • MS-PS1-4 Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
      • HS-PS1-3 Plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles.
    • PS3: Energy
      • MS-PS3-2 Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.
      • HS-PS3-2 Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motions of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles (objects).
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