Pocket Genius Science: Matter and materials – Using materials

Facts At Your Fingertips: Matter and materials – Using materials

Throughout history, people have used and reused materials.

Many natural substances can be adapted or changed to produce new substances.

For example, soft clay can be turned into hard pottery, sand can be transformed into glass, and iron and carbon can be combined to form steel


Glass is a mixture of substances, including silica (from sand), soda ash, and limestone. Glass can be formed into many different shapes.

It can be blown into bottles and jars or rolled into flat sheets for windows. Other substances can be added to change the color of the glass or to make it heatproof.

Processing materials

Many materials can be processed to make different materials. For example, the raw material wood can be cut into building planks or broken into fibers and turned into paper.

Paper itself can be torn into strips, mixed with glue, and reused as papier-mâché.


Many objects and materials can be used more than once, even when they wear out. For example, tires can be reused by adding new tread.

Some objects can also be recycled—their materials turned into new objects. Aluminum cans, newspapers, glass bottles, and even electronic equipment are all regularly recycled.