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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Buoyancy - What Floats?

Here's an easy science experiment for young children ages 2 and up.  All you need is a container of water, a pan to catch the water that spills out, a towel to wipe up and dry hands, a paper and pen, and five objects you are willing to get wet that fit comfortably inside the container.

This simple experiment helps kids learn how to perform and experiment, hypothesis and document their results (no writing required).

Make sure you help your child through each of the following steps:
  1. Have your child find five objects that can safely get wet that they do not know if they will float or not.
  2. Have your child draw a picture of each object in the first row.
  3. In the middle column have them form a hypothesis of whether the object will float in water or sink.  If they think it will float have them draw an up arrow.  If they think it will sink have them draw a down arrow.
  4. Have your child test each object one at a time and record their results with up and down arrows in the last column.
  5. Have you child circle each pair of arrows that does not match up and discuss with them why they think things didn't turn out how they thought.

After the experiment you can talk with your child about density.  (Density is the ratio of mass to volume or mass/volume).  In other words the heavier an object is and the smaller the space it takes up the denser the object is.  Objects that are denser than water sink.  Objects that are less dense than water float.


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