Sink It

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Learners classify a variety of objects by their characteristics. They then design an experiment to determine which objects float or sink in water and add this characteristic to their classification. Learners should work in pairs to design and conduct their experiments, then share their results with other learners to compare. As an extension or possible assessment, the facilitator can ask learners to apply their knowledge to predict whether new items will sink or float and the facilitator can test these predictions as a demonstration.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • bucket or bowl of water about ½ full for each student group
  • at least six 3" x 5" index cards per group. Each card should have a hole punched in the upper left hand corner.
  • 6-inch piece of yarn or string for each student group
  • at least 15 items for each group made of a variety of materials (e.g. paper clips, toothpicks, soda bottle caps, marbles, plastic beads, sponge pieces)
  • large tub of water half full of water for the teacher demonstration
  • pan balance for the teacher demonstration
  • several items to use for the teacher demonstration (e.g., apple, potato, paper clip or penny, 6" piece of wood board)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • 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:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • American Association for the Advancement of Science


  • All rights reserved, AAAS, 2012

Funding Sources:

  • Thinkfinity
  • Verizon Foundation