This is an activity that has been around for years, since 1995 or so, which is like prehistoric times when talking about the web! Originally, it was a website with a collection of similar interactive activities, and they were free. The website evolved into ExploreLearning and now features many interactive gizmos for science and math. You can still find this older version (mirror site) floating around the web and each year I look for it and hope its still out there!
I made a booklet for this lab activity with instructions and room for data collection and analysis. You can use this as a SmartBoard activity with students coming up to take turns, or you can have students do this activity on laptops or desktops.
Students will find the mass and volume for each shape, then place it in the tank to see if it floats or sinks. I usually have them calculate the density after they have recorded all their data, they can use the calculator on the computer or a hand-held one. Once they have the first data table completed, I have them categorize the objects into the two groups: Float or Sink. They should see a pattern where objects with a density less than 1 floated, and objects with a density greater than 1 sank.
Note: the graduated cylinder does not use displacement, it gives the volume of the object directly. And technically, objects that float in the tank should float in the graduated cylinder instead of sinking to the bottom. I always smile if a student points that out.
The kids usually enjoy this activity and when completed on a laptop/desktop, they can work at their own pace. Some students will need help with using the density formula and entering the information into a calculator, as well as rounding to the 100ths place.
Students will answer the analysis questions and write a conclusion.
Here is the activity as a pdf
Updated: One of my student’s notebook with the completed activity