Students will classify matter based on physical properties, including mass, magnetism, physical state (solid, liquid, and gas), relative density (sinking and floating), solubility in water, and the ability to conduct or insulate thermal energy or electric energy.
The student knows that (1) matter has measurable physical properties and (2) those properties determine how matter is classified, changed and used.
Density and Floating: Ask a Scientist (website) - A scientist from the Department of Energy answers the questions, Why do ice cubes float in water? and Why doesn’t the Ivory soap sink?
Sink It: Science NetLinks (website) - Students develop experimental design skills within the context of a familiar event (floating and sinking), while furthering their understanding of density and buoyancy.
- Supporting Lessons
- Assessment Ideas
- Literature Connections
- Additional Resources
Buoyant Boats: Science NetLinks (website) - In this lesson, students design and construct boats out of aluminum foil and a few other simple materials. Students test their boats in a pool of water, and add mass until the boats sink.
Mystery Canisters: The Science Spot (PDF) - Scroll to Lesson 4 (Density), follow the instructions for the “Mystery Canisters” investigation and download the accompanying PDF. This lab challenges students to modify three film canisters to produce one that floats, one that sinks, and one that remains suspended in a tub of tap water.
Elaboration Lessons and Extensions
Does Soap Float? Science NetLinks (website) - Students will form hypotheses and conduct investigations designed to answer a central question: Does soap float?
Sink, Float, Hover; Design a Submarine: Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (website) - Students apply their knowledge of density and buoyancy to design a submarine that is able to sink, hover and float.
Sink It: Science NetLinks (website) - Assessment activities described at the bottom of the page include presentations, discussion, higher-level thinking and vocabulary.
What Floats? What Sinks? A Look at Density. Boothroyd, J. (ISBN-13: 978-0761360551)
What Is Density? Barkan, Joanne (ISBN-13: 978-0516246604)
Will It Float or Sink? Stewart, Melissa (ISBN-13: 978-0516237374)
Density Lesson: Uteach (pdf) - Inquiry-based 5-E lesson exploring density.