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Part I: Information about the Lesson and Unit

Topic: Density
This lesson will feature an application cycle, focused on density. Students will first make
predictions about a scenario (Floating: Coke vs. Diet Coke), and then they will observe that
phenomenon. I will model how to calculate density using the Coke vs. Diet Coke example.
They will then have guided examples (whole class guided by me) of how to calculate density
using D=M/V. We will also work backwards, calculated mass or volume using the formula.
Students will then have a homework assignment calculating density, explaining why things are
more/less dense. This knowledge will be used again/maintained when we move into plate
tectonics (crust types), ocean currents (density differences due to salinity), and meteorology.

Part II: Clarifying Your Goals for the Topic

A. Big Ideas
Density is the mass of a substance per unit volume. In other words, it is the mass of
a sample (in grams) divided by its volume (in mL = cm3). We calculate density using the
formula Density = Mass/Volume. Density is a property of matter that does not depend on
the amount of matter present; it is constant under constant temperature and pressure
conditions. Thus, it can be used to identify unknown substances when density information
for common substances is available. Most substances (especially gases, such as air)
increase in density as pressure is increased or temperature is decreased.
Density is an important base of knowledge for understanding many topics in Earth
Science. Density is an important concept used to understand the mechanism behind plate
tectonics; density explains how continental and oceanic plates float/move on the
asthenosphere. In oceanography, ocean currents are driven by differences in density;
different levels of salinity cause these differences. Density is also important in
meteorology; air movement is caused by differences in air density due to variations in
temperature. (HSCEs E4.2, E4.2d, E3.2c, E4.3)

B. Student Practices
1. Naming key practices
Students will understand how to use mathematics and computational thinking to solve
scientific questions. Students will learn how to correctly use the formula for density,
D=Mass/Volume. Students will also learn how to use the formula to find the mass of an object if
they know the volume and density, or how to find the volume if they know the mass and density.
Students will understand the units of density, as a unit of mass/a unit of volume. Students will
know that the density of water is 1 g/cm3, and be able to explain if an object will float or sink in
water. Students will be able to explain the concept of density in words.
Students have already had experience in observing that certain things float in water, and
others sink. In this activity sequence, they should be able to master the practice of using
mathematics and computational thinking, to then construct an explanation for why different
objects float or sink.

C. Performance Expectations for Student Learning

Performance Expectation

NGSS Practice

NGSS Performance Expectation(s)

1. 5-PS1-3. Make Observations and measurements to identify materials based on their

Analyzing and
Interpreting Data

Specific Lesson Objective(s)

1. Define density as a measure of the amount of mass in a given volume.

Developing and
Using Models
Using Mathematics
and Computational

2. Determine the density of an object using D=M/V.

Part III: Example Activity Sequence

A. Storyline for the Activity Sequence in Context

Role in Storyline

Lessons before
your sequence

Metric System Review: mass, length, volume, units, conversions, measurement techniques.
Students will have mastery of measurable units, and then will apply that to a derived
unit/concept (density)

Lesson 1

Two Steel Spheres demo will be a modeling exercise, the volume, and density will be
calculated. This lesson will establish the problem and it will serve as the first modeling
activity, with a step-by-step walk through of calculating the density for both spheres.
Density notes will be taken (what it measures, how to calculate, and units).

Lesson 2

Coke vs. Diet Coke will serve as the first coaching activity; it will be completed as a lab
assignment. Each group will make predictions; do the activity, then find the mass, volume
and density to explain what happened.

Lesson 3/4

A 2-day capstone lab, practicing using tools to measure mass and volume, and then calculating
density will serve as a fading activity. Students will be working on the lab in groups, but
will turn it in, independently, for a grade, based on correctness. There will be a density
worksheet assigned for homework (day 4).

Lessons after
your sequence

Directly after: Energy in Earth systems. Later in the year, plate tectonics (density differences
of crusts and affects on behavior), ocean currents (salinity/temperature causes density
differences, drives currents), meteorology (air mass density differences and affects on
behavior). Maintenance of the topic will happen in the form of warm-ups in future units,
extra credit test questions, and

B. Activity Sequence Details

Focus Objective
Understand how mass and volume can be used to determine the density of an object
using D=M/V.

NGSS Practice
Using Mathematics
and Computational

1. Application Cycle
Examples and Scaffolding (Pattern in Student Practices)
List of examples

Coke vs. Diet Coke

Two Steel Spheres

Lab materials (block of wood, Kleenex box, water, etc.)

Scaffolding that applies to all examples

A. Given mass and volume of an object, students will:
1. Calculate density, using the formula: D=Mass/Volume.
2. Show all steps/calculations that were done.
3. Use correct units through all steps.
4. Explain if that object will float or sink in water.
Stages in Your Application Sequence
the problem

Teaching Activities
Two Steel Spheres, Density notes (Scaffolding #1-4)
Will it Sink or Will it Float?, notes examples, and (Scaffolding #1-4)
Graphically Comparing Density and Density Homework (Scaffolding #1-4)
Measuring Lab (Scaffolding #1-3)
Warm-Ups, test extra credit questions (not included in this plan) (Scaffolding

C. Lesson Plans
Lesson 1 Materials

Copied materials: Two Steel Spheres worksheet, Density note sheet

Demo materials: 2 steel spheres (one large and light, one small and heavy), tub of water

Projected materials: Density PowerPoint

Lesson 1 Introduction (10 minutes)

Welcome, attendance

Explain that we will observe a strange phenomena today, pass out Two Steel Spheres

Lesson 1 Main Teaching Activities (40 minutes)

o Give students time to answer the first 3 review questions (density formula,
predict, densities compared to water)
o Do the demo (shock and amaze students)

o Calculate volume of the spheres (formula given) together, on the board

(Modeling), and then allow students to use that value to calculate the density.
o Review all answers and go over anything that caused confusion, this worksheet
can be placed in the notes section of the binder
Density notes
o Pass out note sheet
o I will walk through the PowerPoint slides, giving wait time for students to write
down the notes.
o I will complete the example for the students (modeling) while they follow along.

Lesson 1 Conclusion (5 minutes)

Inform them to be prepared to be doing lab activities for the next three days, and to bring
their notes back to class.

Lesson 2 Materials

Copied materials: Will it Sink or Will it Float? worksheet

Lab materials (per group): can of Coke, can of Diet Coke, tub of water, triple beam

Lesson 2 Introduction (5 minutes)

Welcome, take attendance, make sure any homework or late work is turned in to the
appropriate basket
Pass out Coke vs. Diet Coke lab sheet

Lesson 2 Main Teaching Activities (45 minutes)

o Pass out lab sheet
o I will give the students a few minutes to answer the first few questions on the
worksheet (Similar? Different? Predict.)
o Students will break into their lab groups, and each group will conduct the
investigation, they will put the cans of pop in water, observe, and then find the
mass and volume, and calculate the density.
o As an extra visual, I will show them the same mass of real sugar and artificial
sweetener, so they can visualize the difference inside the can.
o The lab sheets can be turned in at the end of the hour, otherwise, they are

Lesson 2 Conclusion (5 minutes)

Students will be instructed to place their notes in their notes section of their binder, and
let them know that tomorrow will be the beginning of a large lab.
Lesson 3 Materials

Copied materials: Measuring Lab sheet

Lab materials: Pennies, textbooks, bulletin board, graduated cylinders, colored water,
marbles, rocks, paper clips, box of Kleenex, blocks of wood
Lesson 3 Introduction (5 minutes)

Welcome, attendance, have the students look around the room and notice all of the lab
materials out, students will be working in groups and completing a measurement lab.

Lesson 3 Main Teaching Activities (45 minutes)

Students will have the whole hour, plus more time the next day, to measure, calculate the
mass, volume, and density of many different objects, using different tools and techniques.

Each student will be responsible for doing the measurements, but the lab will be collected
in a group basis, the group will agree on answers, fill out a group answer sheet and turn
that in.

Lesson 3 Conclusion (5 minutes)

Students will be reminded that they will have more time to complete the lab tomorrow, I
will collect the lab sheets (so no one can forget/lose it), there is no homework for the

Lesson 4 Materials

Copied materials: Measuring Lab sheet, Density Worksheet

Lab materials: Pennies, textbooks, bulletin board, graduated cylinders, colored water,
marbles, rocks, paper clips, box of Kleenex, blocks of wood
Lesson 4 Introduction (5 minutes)

Welcome, attendances, pass back lab sheets, and allow students to move to lab stations.

Lesson 4 Main Teaching Activities (40 minutes)

Students will have time to finish making any measurements and calculations, and then
convene with their groups to discuss answers, and fill out group answer sheet. I will
collect the answer sheets.

Lesson 4 Conclusion (10 minutes)

Pass out density worksheet for homework, I will read aloud the review material on the
worksheet, and then the students will have any remaining time to begin working on it. It
will be due at the beginning of the hour the next day.

Part IV: Assessment of Focus Students

A. Focus Objective
Understand how mass and volume can be used to determine the density of an object using

B. Developing Assessment Tasks

My assessment task: 1.A) Which is heavier, a pound of wood or a pound of steel? Explain your
answer. B) Why do you think that wood floats in water but steel sinks? C) Why do you think
that helium balloons rise in air?
The assessment task from my mentor: Suppose you have one cubic centimeter ( 1 cm3)
of each material listed in the table. Which material would have the greatest mass? Which would
have the least mass?
Density (g/cm3)



The assessment task from my content group leader:

Here is (a new object) what would you need to measure to determine if it would float or sink in