ACS: Inquiry in Action - Float and Sink (Lesson 4.1)

Students place small common objects made from wax, wood, metal, and rubber in water to investigate the question: Do certain materials tend to float or sink in water?

Objective

Students will be able to plan and carry out an investigation to compare the property of sinking and floating between different substances. Students will develop an understanding that whether a substance sinks or floats is a property of the substance.

Key Concepts

  • Whether a substance floats or sinks is a property of the substance.
  • Whether something floats or sinks has to do with how heavy it is and how big it is.
  • Things that sink are heavy for their size.
  • Things that float are light for their size.

NGSS Alignment

  • NGSS 2-PS1-1: Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.

Summary

  • Students will look at several objects made from wax, wood, metal, and rubber and predict and test whether they sink or float.
  • Students will be introduced to the idea that whether a substance floats or sinks is a characteristic property of that substance.

Note: The concept of “density” as D=m/v is not addressed directly. Instead, students explore sinking and floating and develop the understanding that things that sink are heavy for their size and things that float are light for their size.

Evaluation

Download the Student Activity Sheet (PDF) and distribute one per student when specified in the activity. The activity sheet will serve as the Evaluate component of the 5-E lesson plan.


Science Topics
Chemistry, Matter
K-6, Educator
2nd Grade
Descriptions of PDFs

Lesson Plan (PDF) | Student Activity Sheet (PDF) | Teacher Background (PDF) | Connections to NGSS (PDF)

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