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In this quick activity, learners observe how the added sugar in a can of soda affects its density and thus, its ability to float in water. Learners explore this phenomenon by testing if two cans of soda (one regular, one diet or "sugar-free") float in a fish-tank filled with water. Use this activity to introduce learners to the concepts of density and water displacement. This resource also explains how atmospheric density plays a role in meteorology and includes thunderstorm safety tips.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • One can of soda (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, RC, etc.) and one similar brand of their "sugar-free" soda
  • Fish tank 3/4-filled with water


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
      • Atmosphere
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
      • Gases
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, National Weather Service,