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Comparing the Density of an Object to the Density of Water

Source Institutions

    American Chemical Society

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Comparing the Density of an Object to the Density of Water

Learners compare the weight of equal volumes of wax, water, and clay. Learners discover that since the wax weighs less than an equal volume of water, it is less dense than water and will float. And since the clay weighs more than an equal volume of water, it is more dense and will sink.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

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


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Water
  • 1 Clear plastic cup or container
  • 2 Tealight candles in metal containers
  • Ruler
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Permanent marker
  • Clay
  • Student Activity Sheet


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


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:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Kessler, James H.; Galvan, Patricia M.


  • All Rights Reserved, American Chemical Society, ©2007


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