Science House Journal Entry


  • Density Blocks
Grades: 9th
Class size: 40
Time: 50 minutes
Science House report image
Density Cubes

As a physical science teacher, one of my jobs is to teach my students how to measure like scientists. This includes, but of course is not limited to, distance with a ruler and mass with a balance. That is why I like to do a lab with the density blocks very early in the year. You use the rule to measure the length, width, and height of the blocks (in this case they're cubes, but hopefully sometime the Resource House will get some non-cube blocks) to calculate volume. They get practice using the triple beam balance finding mass. Finally they get to calculate density and put the blocks in order by density. A fun and engaging way to learn about the importance of measurement. Oh yeah, it's totally free too (thanks Resource House).

Minnesota Science Standards: 
Physical Science
Other files: 
maiken's picture
maiken says:

Dear MathProphet,
That's a great activity and really fun to watch the students' faces when their assumptions about the density of common materials is challenged. We don't have irregular solid 3D shapes but we do have some other materials for studying volume. Have you seen our "Shapes, Clear Geometric Volume Set?"

See the link to our catalogue:

Shapes, Clear Geometric Volume Set
Shapes, Clear Geometric Volume SetCourtesy Science House Collection

posted on Sat, 09/10/2011 - 8:29am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Measurement Challenge: A Density Lab
Measurement Challenge: A Density LabCourtesy Science House Collection

You can use the "Measurement Challenge" kit if you'd like blocks that are different in size and made of several plastics that have different densities. It makes the measurement aspects more interesting/challenging.

See the link to the Science House catalogue:

posted on Mon, 09/12/2011 - 10:28am
Travis's picture
Travis says:

If you were looking for samples that where not simple geometric shapes like cubes or spheres, you could use mineral samples, which would be a nice interdisciplinary connection.

In k-12 classrooms, students definitely should have experiences classifying natural materials, but I think it's kind of rare to use density in those classification schemes or keys

Science House has a large collection of minerals that would work well. I'd recommend these; they're large enough samples that density measurements would be a little easier:

There's also a specific gravity balance, that lets you easily measure the ratio of the density of a material to water, which cuts out trying to figure out the volume of an irregularly shaped object.

posted on Mon, 09/12/2011 - 1:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Actually, that is a great idea (using mineral samples). I hadn't thought of that. That offers the added benefit of exposing them to the world of minerals.

I run an online Poetry website that is currently engaging the educational community. I am thinking that a mathematics component might be helpful. It would not be difficult to add geometric modeling to the website, but there is no substitute for a hands on experience.

I don't know. Maybe it will work.

Warmest regards.
Alan Loren
Chief Editor
Inspirational Poetry

posted on Sun, 02/26/2012 - 7:57pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I didn't enjoy science in high school, too much book reading and theory. When I got into college though, I had a teacher who taught be demonstration. Physics became so much fun to learn.

I think most people can fall in love with science if it's taught to them in the right way.


posted on Wed, 07/18/2012 - 7:58am

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