Mass, Volume and Density

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Updated on Apr 01, 2014

Grade Level: 10th - 12th; Type: Physical Science

In this experiment students will demonstrate the relationship between mass, volume, and density.

• What is gravitational acceleration?
• How can we determine the volume of an object?
• How can we determine the mass of an object?
• What is the density of water?
• How can we determine the density of an object?
• Why do some objects float?
• What would we weigh if we were on the moon?

What is a quick way to lose weight? Go to the moon. In this experiment we will examine the relationship between mass, volume, and density to explain how astronauts loose weight when they fly to the moon. Density is often mistaken for weight. Although the weight of an object can change, the density of an object remains the same. Density refers to the amount of matter within a given volume. By measuring the weight and volume of an object we can then determine its density. In geometry we can calculate the volume of certain objects such as a ball or a box. Because a ball is a sphere and a box is a cube we can use the volumetric equations: Vsphere = 4/3 π3 and Vcube = length x width x height. However, in the real world matter can take on any form making it very difficult to determine volume from the conventional equations. By measuring an object’s displacement within water we can calculate volume.

Most of the materials can be found in a general chemistry laboratory.

• 500-1000mL graduated cylinder (wide mouth)
• Scale (grams)
• Water
• Various objects: Lemon, billiard ball, small piece of a metal pipe, roll of quarters, etc.
1. Weigh each of your objects and record in grams.
2. Fill a 500-1000mL graduated cylinder ½ way with water and record the volume.
3. Place one object into the graduated cylinder so that it is submerged in the water.
4. Measure the volume of the water and submerged object.
5. Repeat for each object.
6. Calculate: mass and density.
 Observed Values Calculated Values Object Weight (g) Initial Volume (mL) Final Volume (mL) Volume (mL) Mass (g) Density (g/mL) A B C D E F G

Terms/Concepts: Mass; Volume; Density; Displacement; Acceleration; Gravity

Melissa Bautista is a research scientist, freelance editor, and writer, with a focus in Neuroscience. She believes in establishing solid foundations in education through experience, creativity, and collaboration. She is fascinated by pedagogy and the concept of learning through living.