Oh Boy Buoyancy

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In this physics activity, learners will explore the concept of buoyancy, especially as it relates to density. They will experiment with different materials while participating in a design challenge in which they take three film canisters and try to get them to float, sink, and - most challenging of all - hover in the middle of a tank of water.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 3 Film Canisters
  • Water
  • Bin (or aquarium) big enough to submerge the canisters
  • Weights to make film canisters sink
  • Styrofoam or similar buoyant material


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • Health and Nutrition
  • Physical Sciences
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, COSI Columbus, 2009