Study P4 Science Science - Matter - Geniebook


In this article, you will be introduced to the concept of matter based on the Singapore Primary 4 Science Syllabus. You will also learn about the characteristics of matter and how to classify matter according to their states.


What is Matter?

Matter is anything that has mass and occupies space. Matter is made up of tiny particles. Different types of matter have different types of particles. For example, particles that make up plastic are different from the particles that make up copper. 


What is Mass?

The mass of an object refers to the amount of matter in the object. It can be measured using the following equipment:

Electronic balance
Credits: brgfx -


The units for mass are kilogram (kg) and gram (g). The mass of an object remains the same regardless of location.


What is Volume?

The volume of an object refers to the amount of space the object occupies. It can be measured with the following equipment:

Measuring cylinder
Credits: vectorpocket -

The units for volume are litres (), millitres (m), cubic centimetres (cm3) and cubic metres (m3).


How to measure the volume of an object?

  1. Fill a measuring cylinder with 100 cm3 of water as shown in Diagram 1.
  2. Tie a string to the object and gently lower the object into the measuring cylinder until it is fully submerged in the water as shown in Diagram 2.
  3. Record the new volume.
  4. The volume of the object is the difference between the new volume and the initial volume of water.



What is Non-matter?

Non-matter is anything that does not have mass and/or does not occupy space. Examples of non-matter are: different forms of energy (light, heat, sound, electrical) and shadow.


Classification of Matter

Matter can be classified into three states of matter: solid state, liquid state and gaseous state.


Solid State

Liquid State

Gaseous State

definite (fixed) shape

indefinite (no fixed) shape

indefinite (no fixed) shape

unable to take up the shape of the container

able to take up the shape of the container

able to take up the shape of the container

definite (fixed) volume

definite (fixed) volume

indefinite (no fixed) volume

cannot be compressed

cannot be compressed

can be compressed



In this article, we are introduced to what matter is by examining the characteristics of matter. We have looked at examples of non-matter. We have also learnt how to classify matter according to their states - solid, liquid and gas.


Test Your Concepts

Answer the following questions based on the concepts that we have covered in this article. If you are unclear, you may want to revisit the relevant section to revise the concepts.


Question 1:

Which of the following statements best explains why a shadow is non-matter?

  1. A shadow is grey.
  2. A shadow does not have mass.
  3. A shadow does not occupy space.
  4. Different shapes and sizes of shadows can be formed from an object.


  1. A and D only
  2. B and C only
  3. A, B and C only
  4. B, C and D only





A shadow is a non-matter. Thus, a shadow does not have mass and does not occupy space. The colour, shape and size of a shadow does not show that a shadow is a non-matter.


Question 2:

The instructions on how to find the volume of a pebble are jumbled up.

  1. Place the pebble into the water carefully.
  2. Fill the measuring cylinder with 50 ml of water.
  3. Find the difference between the old and new volumes.
  4. Record down the new total volume of the water and the pebble.


Arrange the cards to show the correct order in order to find the volume of a pebble.


  1. A, B, C, D
  2. B, A, D, C
  3. B, A, C, D
  4. C, B, A, D





The measuring cylinder has to be filled up with water first. When the pebble is placed into the water, it will occupy space in the measuring cylinder and push the water level up. 

Next, record down the total volume of the water and the object. 

Finally, we can find the volume of the pebble by subtracting the old volume (50 ml) from the new volume recorded.


Question 3:

Sandy pumped equal volume of air into two identical balloons and balanced them on two ends of the bar as shown below.


Her brother, Gary, accidentally bursted Balloon X, causing the air in Balloon X to escape into the surroundings.

What would most likely happen to Sandy’s set-up? Explain your answer.



The balance would tilt downwards towards Balloon Y.  The air in Balloon X escaped when it burst, causing Balloon X to be lighter because air has mass

Solution Explanation:

There is no longer air in Balloon X as it had bursted. The side with Balloon Y will now be heavier as that side has the mass of both the balloon and the air inside it, causing the balance to tilt downwards towards Balloon Y.


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