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Choosing the Right Material

In this worksheet, student's understanding of why materials are chosen for a particular task will be extended and it also challenges them to look at what properties suit different materials for particular applications.

'Choosing the Right Material' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Properties and Changes of Materials

Curriculum subtopic:   Comparing and Grouping Properties of Materials

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

All around you in the world are loads and loads of different materials being put to use - look in your pencil case: why is your pencil made of wood with a stick of graphite down the middle? Why is your ruler see-through plastic? What makes your pencil case strong and light?

 

Pencil case

 

These are the sorts of questions that you need to consider when trying to find out why certain materials are used to do certain jobs.

 

Let's explore!

Car headlight

 

Glass is used to cover car headlights because it is ....

waterproof

transparent

hard to break

Electrical cable

 

Plastic is used for the outside of an electric cable because it is ...

waterproof

an electrical conductor

an electrical insulator

colourful

Steel car body

 

Steel is used for the body of a car because it is ...

magnetic

an electrical conductor

strong

Box of tissues

 

Paper is used for tissues because it is ...

absorbent

waterproof

strong

Which of these materials could you use to make a glove?

 

Tick as many answers as you agree with.

wool

rubber

glass

cotton

Which of these materials would you NOT use to make a saucepan out of?

metal

glass

china

plastic

Which of these objects would NOT be made from gold?

jewellery

a cup

a car

How many reasons would you choose to explain why plastic is good for making these toy bricks?

 

Plastic toy bricks

light

strong

colourful

soft

magnetic

sticky

easy to shape/mould

melts easily

easy to swallow

  • Question 1

Car headlight

 

Glass is used to cover car headlights because it is ....

CORRECT ANSWER
transparent
EDDIE SAYS
Headlights need the light of the bulb to shine through them so they are transparent. Glass is a good choice as it is transparent and tough enough to cope with rain, muck and high wind speeds.
  • Question 2

Electrical cable

 

Plastic is used for the outside of an electric cable because it is ...

CORRECT ANSWER
an electrical insulator
EDDIE SAYS
With an electric cable you do not want to come into contact with the strands of metal carrying the electric current, so the plastic coating (known as insulation) keeps you safe by protecting you from the electricity. The plastic does not conduct electricity - it is an insulator.
  • Question 3

Steel car body

 

Steel is used for the body of a car because it is ...

CORRECT ANSWER
strong
EDDIE SAYS
Steel is all of the above things, but which one makes it best for cars? Its strength! In an accident you want a strong 'box' surrounding you, protecting you from harm - steel is good for that.
  • Question 4

Box of tissues

 

Paper is used for tissues because it is ...

CORRECT ANSWER
absorbent
EDDIE SAYS
OK, so tissues need to be fairly strong (well, the ads want us to believe it!), but the key property a tissue needs is to be able to absorb your sneezes and sniffles and tissue paper's very good at that.
  • Question 5

Which of these materials could you use to make a glove?

 

Tick as many answers as you agree with.

CORRECT ANSWER
wool
rubber
cotton
EDDIE SAYS
In fact all except glass (it's not at all flexible!): woollen gloves to keep your fingers warm, rubber gloves to protect them from cleaning fluids and cotton gloves for handling fragile items (like a rare book).
  • Question 6

Which of these materials would you NOT use to make a saucepan out of?

CORRECT ANSWER
plastic
EDDIE SAYS
Plastic's no good as saucepans have to be heated and the plastic will melt. Metal is the commonest material for saucepans, heat-resistant glass is often used as well as china/pottery ones.
  • Question 7

Which of these objects would NOT be made from gold?

CORRECT ANSWER
a car
EDDIE SAYS
It may be that James Bond's enemy Goldfinger had a golden car but it's a poor material to make cars from: too heavy, too expensive and too soft!
  • Question 8

How many reasons would you choose to explain why plastic is good for making these toy bricks?

 

Plastic toy bricks

CORRECT ANSWER
light
strong
colourful
easy to shape/mould
melts easily
EDDIE SAYS
Plastic is great for these bricks: it melts at a fairly low temperature and so is easy to shape, it's light and strong and easy to colour. You might have said it's sticky as the bricks 'stick' together easily! Luckily the plastic isn't actually sticky!
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