Density

Density is a property of materials included in the National Science Education Standards Physical Science Content Standard B. It is a property by which mixtures can be separated but has much more profound applications outside the classroom such as rock formation, severe weather and living systems. But none of these concepts are fully comprehensible without a fundamental conceptual understanding of density. This is an abstract concept combining the concepts of mass and volume. The resources here provide examples designed to help you facilitate student acquisition of a conceptual understanding of density.

Funny Water
This page from the National Science Education Standards starts the story of a middle school teacher’s inquiry lesson on density.

Density Balloon
What happens to the density of a balloon as it is heated and cooled? Here students use a hair dryer to heat a helium-filled Mylar balloon, causing it to rise, and let it cool, causing it to drop. The activity includes a description, a list of science process skills and complex reasoning strategies being used. Also provided are content topics, a list of necessary supplies, instructions, and presentation techniques. The content of the activity is explained, and assessment suggestions are provided.

Liquid Rainbow
In this density activity, students determine the relative densities of five liquids and layer them atop one another in a straw.

Atmospheric Properties: Convection
This page describes convection currents in terms of density differences.

Potato Float
How can a potato wedge be made to hover in the center of a glass of liquid? Students investigate density using potato wedges and water and sugar water solutions.


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