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STC Program: Floating and Sinking, 3rd Edition

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Grades 4-6. In Floating and Sinking, students begin by simply making and testing predictions about whether a set of objects will sink or float. This investigation serves as an introduction to inquiries regarding the effect weight, size, and shape have on whether an object floats or sinks. In a design challenge, they design a clay boat that will float and hold a specific capacity of marbles.

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Grades 4–6. In Floating and Sinking, students begin by simply making and testing predictions about whether a set of objects will sink or float. This investigation serves as an introduction to inquiries regarding the effect weight, size, and shape have on whether an object floats or sinks, which challenge most students’ conceptions. Students are introduced to a spring scale, and use it to measure the weight of their objects and the buoyant force on fishing bobbers. Students explore the effect of shape on buoyancy in depth by manipulating a ball of clay and testing multiple times to determine whether it sinks or floats.

This prepares them for a design challenge in which they design a clay boat that will float and hold a specific capacity of marbles. By recording and analyzing their own data, students become aware of surprising phenomena-some "floaters" are heavier than some "sinkers", and large objects are not always heavier than smaller objects.

 
 
 
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