1st Grade Trophy Links
Vermilion Parish Schools
Activity 4: Volume VS. Mass (SI GLEs: 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 16, 17, 21, 22; PS GLEs: 1, 2)

Materials List: 4 - 6 small regular-shaped blocks that appear very close in shape and size, permanent marker, scales for group use, rulers, student generated chart, chart used in Activity 3 if density problems have not been completed, science learning log

The teacher can construct four to six small blocks that appear to be the same size and shape but are dramatically different in mass.  Materials that could be used include tile, wood, foam, box, cardboard, clay, etc. (Small density blocks are also available for purchase through science suppliers.) The constructed blocks should measure the same dimensionally and look the same. Cover all with aluminum foil or wrap in tape to make them appear similar. Another source of density blocks is to use small, empty student milk cartons, each filled with a different material: cotton, un-popped corn, sand, gravel, potting soil, and salt. Seal the top and push it down flat.  Tape the top down on the carton so that a cube-shape results.  Label each with a different number (not the contents) and move each from group to group until all groups have measured each carton.

If using blocks, number them and give each group a different block.  Move these from group to group. Have students describe each of the blocks, then measure, weigh, and determine its mass and volume in order to calculate the density of each. They should be able to provide consistency and accuracy in their measurements. 

Have them switch blocks until they have measured all of them. Students should record their measurements in a common class chart. The chart should provide space for each group to record their measurement of each block.  Compare the findings of each group on the class chart.  The teacher may choose to have a mass, volume, and density measurement for each block against which students may check the accuracy of theirs, or the teacher may use the student findings and arrive at a reasonable conclusion based on their data.  Discuss any widely different findings with the class and arrive at an explanation for the differences. Discuss what may be the reason for any widely discrepant measurements.

Use this opportunity to discriminate between observations and inferences. The student’s experience with the visually similar but quantitatively different blocks is a good tie-in to a discussion about density (how much matter is in a given volume).  If the concept wasn’t introduced in Activity 3, then present this concept now. Have students complete the density calculations from Activity 3, if they did not do so earlier.

Work with students to create a summary statement that reflects the observations of the entire class. These can be added to the science learning log (view literacy strategy descriptions). They should be able to make an inference based on all data collected and a statement reflecting the trend they observed in the similar but obviously different objects.

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