Monday, January 19, 2015

Teaching Density with Visuals

Density is one of my favorite topics to teach.  Students can struggle with it, but there are so many great visuals and techniques for teaching it that often times I am witness to a very real AH HA! moment.  That's the best part of teaching right?

Introducing Density 

When explaining density for the first time to students, it is important to use an example that ALL students have background knowledge on.  Try this elevator example!

Rope off a pretend elevator in your classroom.  Review the meaning of volume as you explain to students the size of the elevator.

Slowly add students to the elevator and ask the class to consider how the ratio of mass to volume changes.

Most middle school kids have seen Star Wars, so why not use it to explain density?  The trash compactor scene makes for a fun example.  Consider showing this short clip and then asking students to complete an exit ticket answering the question:  How does the changing ratio of mass to volume endanger Luke, Leia and Han?

Star Wars Trash Compactor Clip:

I find that LOTS of visuals are key to helping kids conceptualize density.  Here is another one that might work well for your students.  Fill three equal-sized containers with 3 different objects.  Here I used 2 Liter plastic bottles,  cotton balls and dry black beans.  The third is "empty," which leads to a great classroom discussion about whether air has mass.  

In addition to classroom visuals, consider assigning some videos for homework.  If you use a site like you will be able to track whether your students actually watch the videos and you can even imbed questions to check the progress of their learning.  Below I list 3 Youtube videos that are perfect for middle schoolers and can be just the extra review students need!


5 Facts about Density

Eureka Density

Looking for more ways to make learning about density fun and engaging?  Here are some materials you might be interested in.  

Thanks for visiting Kate's Classroom Cafe!  Happy teaching...


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