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Sink or Float

Kindergarten, First Grade Science,

by Rekha Mundkur July 9, 2015

Introduce your students to the scientific concept of sink or float. This hands-on experiment allows them to see
which objects sink and which float. The concepts taught will be solidified with the completion of worksheets.

Learning Objectives

Students will work in small groups to test whether objects sink or float and describe their findings orally.

Materials and preparation Key terms

Materials sink
Small plastic tubs
A variety of objects that will both sink and float
in water, like corks, metal rings, paper scraps,
feathers, buttons, and marbles.
Paper towels
Sink or Float? worksheet
Buoyancy worksheet


Create work stations for groups to test the

buoyancy of objects. These stations should be
fairly waterproof, with plenty of towels or paper
towels around to clean up spills.
There should be a tub filled with water and
various objects that both sink and float at each


Sink or Float?
Sink or Float? 2
Buoyancy 2

Introduction (5 minutes)

Gather students in a group and tell them that they will be learning about sinking and floating.
Show them a tub filled with water and the objects that will be tested.

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Define sink as the action of an object when it becomes submerged in a liquid. Define float as the action
of an object when it sits on the surface of a liquid.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling (10 minutes)

Have students guess which objects will sink and which will float.
Tell students that lighter objects are more likely to stay on the surface of the water and heavier objects
are more likely to sink to the bottom of the tub.
Drop a couple objects into the water to show students how you would like them to place the objects,
avoiding splashing, and showing them what you are looking for to determine whether the object floats or
Make a "float" and a "sink" pile and put your objects in their corresponding pile.

Guided Practice (15 minutes)

Place the students in groups, one for each work station. Review the rules for collaborative group
conversations by creating a poster titled "Group Work."
1. Listen to others carefully
2. Speak one at a time
3. Talk about the text or topic
Have students give a thumbs up if they can agree to follow these rules for group discussions.
Ask group members to test one object at a time, placing them into their own "float" and "sink" piles as
they finish. Have group members then discuss in their groups which objects sank and which objects
As groups finish, go around and check their "sink" and "float" piles for correctness.
Ask students to clean up any spills that may have happened, then to return to their seats.

Independent working time (10 minutes)

Discuss briefly some of the groups results. Allow volunteers to share some ideas with the whole class.
Hand out the Sink or Float? and Buoyancy worksheets.
Read out the definition of buoyancy from the Buoyancy worksheet. Ask students if they have any
Rotate around the classroom and assist struggling students.
Have students turn in their worksheets when done.

Related books and/or media

BOOK: Sink or Float by Vijaya Khisty Bodach

BOOK: What Floats? What Sinks?: A Look at Density by Jennifer Boothroyd



Advanced students can test more objects or complete extra worksheets, such as Sink or Float? 2 or
Buoyancy 2.


Pair struggling students with students who have a strong understanding of the concepts presented. Offer
additional help with worksheets.

Assessment (5 minutes)

Review students' "float" and "sink" piles as well as their worksheets to assess their levels of
Circulate and listen to group discussions. Offer suggestions where needed and monitor their ability to
speak about the topic and text.

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Review and closing (10 minutes)

Gather students into a group.

Ask students if they were surprised by any of their results.
Review the concept of sink and float with them.
Read a book about sink and float. Ask students to discuss the text as a whole group and share details
they learned from the book.

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