Finding the Volume of Irregularly Shaped Objects Using Water Displacement

Pouring water into the graduated cylinder - approximately 50 mL.
Pouring water into the graduated cylinder – approximately 50 mL.

(For lessons and resources on reading and using graduated cylinders, please see my related blog entry)

Materials:

  • 2 graduated cylinders per group of 4 students
  • 1 container of water per group
  • 1 plastic tray per group
  • 1 plastic spoon per group
    • this is used to stop item from falling into the container and to fish out items if needed
  • paper towels or cloth towels
  • green or blue food coloring – a few drops per 500 mL
    • adding food coloring helps the students to make accurate readings since it easier to see the water, plus it is fun to work with 🙂
    • I don’t like to use red or yellow, they tend to stain more than the blue and green food coloring
  • an assortment of small objects such as pennies, rubber stoppers, marbles, pebbles, etc…
  • Water Displacement – Volume Lab Handout (pdf)
Slowly adding objects into the graduated cylinder. Items like rocks, marbles, metal cubes/cylinders will crack the graduated cylinder if dropped in.
Slowly adding objects into the graduated cylinder. Items like rocks, marbles, metal cubes/cylinders will crack the graduated cylinder if dropped in.
All supplies are kept on lunch trays for easy clean up and spill control.
All supplies are kept on lunch trays for easy clean up and spill control.
Reading the meniscus on a level surface at eye level to ensure accurate readings.
Reading the meniscus on a level surface at eye level to ensure accurate readings.
After recording our measurements, we empty the water and contents. The plastic spoon helps to prevent items from falling into the beaker, and fish items out if they fall in.
After recording our measurements, we empty the water and contents. The plastic spoon helps to prevent items from falling into the beaker, and fish items out if they do fall in.

Additional Resources:

  • Measuring Liquid Volume Practice Sheet (pdf)
  • Common Core – Graduated Cylinder Worksheets (link)
  • Volume by Water Displacement Worksheets (pdf)
  • Finding volume using an overflow can (pdf)

For more lessons related to Properties of Matter click here (link)

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