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Lab Ideas for Teaching Density

Density can be such a fun concept to teach! There are so many lab options to choose from. My recommendation: do a minimum of two density labs. Introduce one lab BEFORE you teach what density is, and allow students to discuss why some objects sink, why some float, and how mass and volume are related. Then AFTER you teach what density is and how to calculate it, introduce another lab where students can actually measure the density of objects. I have a bunch of density labs available in my TpT store. Read through the descriptions and see which ones suit your fancy! 

BEFORE you teach density lab options:

7 lab ideas for teaching density

1. Density Column Lab- this lab is always a winner! Have students layer different liquids in a graduated cylinder and have them figure out why the liquids form layers and don’t mix. You can also add objects to the cylinder and see which layer they settle in. Here is a video of this lab from Steve Spangler’s sick science series. 

7 lab ideas for teaching density

2. Dancing Raisins Lab- Another fun hands on lab. Students will try and figure out why raisins “dance” (rise and fall) in a beaker of soda as the carbonated bubbles stick to the raisins.  

7 lab ideas for teaching density

3. Volume vs. Mass Lab- This lab is great for reinforcing measurement and graphing skills. It is similar to the density of water lab (listed below) but doesn’t discuss density yet. Students will measure the mass of water in 10mL increments and graph their data. They will find out the density of water based on their best fit line.

AFTER you teach density lab options:
4. Density of Water Lab- Once students know the formula for density, have them figure out the density of water with this easy lab. Students will calculate the density of water at different volumes and learn that the density of water will always be 1 g/mL. 

7 lab ideas for teaching density

5. Density of Oil and Water Lab- I wrote this lab shortly after the BP oil spill in 2010. I love that students are able to relate density to a real world situation and discuss oil spills and clean up methods. In this lab students will observe how oil and water react when mixed and try different methods of absorbing the oil from their beaker. 

7 lab ideas for teaching density

6. Sink or Float Lab- In this lab, students will keep adding salt to a beaker of water and measure how much salt it takes to make a baby carrot float. Once they get the carrot to float, they will need to calculate the density of the salt-water solution. Don’t forget to show students a picture of the Dead Sea!

7 lab ideas for teaching density

And an extra freebie!
7. I used this colorful convection lab when I taught about heat transfer, but it also demonstrates density! You could easily adapt it to your density unit. Download it here for free!

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Hi, I'm Becca!

I help busy science teachers get your prep back by providing you time saving lessons, labs, and resources.

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