Beacon Lesson Plan Library

More Volume Please! Don't Be Dense!

Dawn Pack


Students use their knowledge of mass, volume, and density to determine volume and density. It is assumed that students have seen demonstrations of and have had guided practiced with the measurement procedures and tools used in this lesson.


The student uses metric tools to determine the density and volume of materials.


-[Volume/Density] work sheets (1 per student) (see attached files)
-Rubric (1 per student if assessing) (see attached files)
-Various objects for students to measure (marble, book, block, paper clip, rock, small toy car, pencil, key, washer, nail, etc.)
-Graduated cylinders with metric increments (at least 1 per group)
-Balance with gram weights (at least 1 per group)
-Rulers with millimeters and centimeters (at least 1 per group)
-Calculators (optional-at least 1 per group)
-Paper towels
-Plastic tablecloths (1 for each group table or group of desks)
-Sharpened pencils (1 for each students)
-Sharpened colored pencils (at least 1 set per group - for drawing objects on student lab sheet)


1. Assemble the first 10 items from the materials list.

2. Cover student work spaces with plastic table cloths

3. If using this lesson as an evaluation each group receives the same objects. The teacher calculates the mass, volume, and density ahead of time and records the measurements on the [Volume/Density Lab Answer Key] (see attached files). If using this lesson as an assessment, each group should receive 5 different objects. These objects may be different from those received by the other groups in the class (irregularly shaped objects must fit into the graduated cylinder without getting stuck).

4. Prepare a tray for each group. Each tray should contain the 5 objects to be measured, a balance with gram weights, a graduated cylinder filled partially with water, metric rulers, and paper towels.

5. Display the density formula poster (see attached files).


1. Review the definitions of mass (the amount of matter in an object), volume (the amount of space an object takes up), and density (the concentration of matter in an object) and how to determine each of these physical properties of matter.

2. Review use of the measurement tools. Discuss safety rules (IE: possible broken glass from graduated cylinders, slippery floors, etc.)

3. Explain the activity and expectations (see #8 below). Hand out the [Volume/Density Lab Sheet] (see attached files). Allow students to use the back of their lab sheet for their calculations, if not using a calculator. If using the [Volume/Density Rubric] (see attached file), hand it out at this time. Make sure students understand the purpose of the activity and what will be assessed.

4. Allow time for questions and clarification.

5. Distribute one tray of materials per group.

6. Allow a few minutes for students to explore the materials.

7. Students complete the following with each of the provided objects.
A. Choose an object from the tray.
B. Draw (using the colored pencils)and/or label it in the appropriate box on the [Volume/Density Lab Sheet].
C. Measure the mass in grams and record it on the [Volume/Density Lab Sheet]. D. Determine the best way to measure the objectís volume. Regular shaped objects should be measured using the formula LxWxH and labeled with the exponent 3 (cubed). Irregularly shaped objects should be placed in a graduated cylinder with water. The new measurement (after adding the object) minus the original measurement (before adding the object)equals the amount of water that was displaced. This is the volume.
E. Measure the volume in milliliters and record it on the [Volume/Density Lab Sheet].
G. Use the objectís mass and volume to calculate the its density (calculator may be used here).
H. Record the density in grams per centimeters on the [Volume/Density Lab Sheet].
I. Share results with the other members of the group. Look for similarities and
differences in the measurements.
J. Complete questions 1 and 2 at the bottom of the [Volume/Density Lab Sheet].

8. Clean up and put materials back.

9. Discuss results as a class. Students should be able to restate the definitions of mass, volume, and density and how each property is determined.


Students determine the mass and volume of various objects using metric tools (graduated cylinders, centimeter rulers, balances) and use those calculations to determine the density of the materials. Students record their results on the [Volume/ Density Lab Sheet], compare and discuss their results with those in their group, and recalculate if necessary.
Teacher assesses studentsí ability to use metric tools for determining the density and volume of various objects using the [Density Lab Rubric] or [Density Lab Answer Key].


1. Set up a center in the classroom with the balance and gram weights, graduated cylinder, and rulers. Allow students to bring in objects from home and determine their mass, volume, and density.

2. Explain to students that the density of a pure substance is always the same regardless of the size of the sample. Provide students with three pieces of the same material (IE: a piece of wood cut into three different sizes). Direct the students to determine the mass and volume of each piece of wood then use those calculations to determine the density of each piece. Students should discover that the density of each wood sample, regardless of the size of the sample, is the same.

Web Links

An interactive lesson for determining density. This would be for students who feel comfortable with more complex math calculations.
Density, Mass, and Volume Interactive Problems

This website offers a PowerPoint presentation to teach the concepts of volume and density.
Volume and Density PowerPoint Presentation

Attached Files

Volume/Density Lab Sheet     File Extension: pdf

Volume/Density Rubric     File Extension: pdf

Volume/Density Answer Key     File Extension: pdf

Density Formula Poster     File Extension: pdf

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