Discovering Density

Grades 6—8

Written by Jacqueline Barber, Marion E. Buegler, Laura Lowell, and Carolyn Willard

Why does a scoop of ice cream float in root beer? The answers to this and other questions of youthful empirical concern surface in this unit of substance.

Secret formulas, salt solutions, color layering in liquid, and other activities and demonstrations of density reinforce students' practical understanding of this important concept in the physical sciences. From their understanding of density in liquids, students learn to infer the relative densities of solids and gases. As appropriate, the mathematical equation for determining density is introduced.

A number of "puzzling scenarios" encourage students to explore real-life connections to this pervasive property.

Can be used as an excellent introductory unit to the GEMS guide Convection: A Current Event.

Time: Five 25- to 50-minute sessions, plus possible follow-up sessions.

NSTA Recommends   Discovery Density
"Discovering Density
is the tool that science educators have been looking for.... The authors have clearly and explicitly outlined the background knowledge, procedures, and data collection worksheets to aid the teacher in presenting these lessons....Overall, this practical handbook provides interesting, relevant, and very "doable" activities for middle school and junior high school students."

—National Science Teachers Association Recommends

Comment on this GEMS unit.

Order online

Ordering information

Literature Connections

ISBN: Grade Level Format Price


Grades 6—8

5 Sessions,
80 pages


Lawrence Hall of Science    © 2004 UC Regents. All rights reserved.    Contact GEMS    Updated December 29, 2020