Float or Sink?

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In this water activity, learners test which objects float and which sink. Learners discover that objects behave differently in water. Learners are also introduced to the idea of "predicting" and record their predictions and observations on a chart. This activity is part of the curriculum Explore Water, related to Peep and the Big Wide World, a preschool science series on public television. The activity starts on page 41 of the PDF. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Archive.org.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 6

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • two plastic bins labeled with picture signs: "Float" and "Sink"
  • objects that float or sink
  • collection of balls that float or sink (see Materials on page 28 of PDF)
  • plastic, newspapers, and/or towels to cover the floor
  • water table, pool, or container
  • water
  • water smocks (garbage bags with holes for head and arms work well.)
  • chart paper and marker


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • Physical Sciences
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • PEEP and the Big Wide World


  • All rights reserved, WGBH, 2005

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation