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Investigating Mass and Volume Mark as Favorite (2 Favorites)
LAB in Measurements. Last updated January 29, 2024.
Summary
In this lab students will become familiar with collecting and recording quantitative data. They will calculate the volume of a solid cube or rectangle using metric measurements, as well as measure the volume of a liquid and an irregular shaped object using water displacement. In addition students will have an opportunity to measure and record the mass of an object using a triple beam balance.
Grade Level
Middle and Elementary School
NGSS Alignment
This lab will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:
- Science and Engineering Practices:
- Analyzing and Interpreting Data
- Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
Objectives
By the end of this lab, students should be able to
- Accurately measure the mass of an object using a triple beam balance.
- Determine the volume of a liquid using a graduated cylinder.
- Determine the volume of an irregularly shaped object using water displacement.
- Correctly use a metric ruler.
- Calculate the volume of a rectangular object from collected metric measurements.
Chemistry Topics
This lab supports students’ understanding of
- Measurement
- Mass
- Volume
- Water Displacement
- Physical Properties
Time
Teacher Preparation: 15 minutes
Lesson: 50 minutes
Materials (per group)
- Objects to measure: cubes, rocks, dense wood
- Triple Beam Balance
- Ruler
- Graduated cylinder(s)
- Water
Safety
- Always wear safety goggles when handling chemicals in the lab.
- Students should wash their hands thoroughly before leaving the lab.
- When students complete the lab, instruct them how to clean up their materials and dispose of any chemicals.
Teacher Notes
- Students should be somewhat familiar with measurement and the metric system prior to this activity.
- This lab activity is best completed in pairs or small groups.
- It might be helpful to demonstrate each type of measurement prior to the lab, particularly a triple beam balance.
- For older students this could be a good lab activity to use as review.
- This lab can be expanded upon by using more objects, or requiring students to also calculate density.
- Be careful when adding the irregular shaped objects to glass graduated cylinders. Objects such as rocks can easily break the glass.
- Make sure the irregular shaped objects that you use can fit inside the graduated cylinder for the water displacement portion of the lab.
- Depending on the age and ability of the students, the conclusion section might be a good question to use as a discussion question rather than a written answer.
- Density Cubes work well for the first part of this activity. Lego blocks are also a good option.
- Pieces of dense wood or rocks are good options for the irregular shaped object in part three. Examples shown in photo below.
For the Student
Pre-lab Questions
- What is volume? Give an example.
- How do you calculate the volume of a rectangular solid?
- How do you calculate the volume of an irregular solid?
- How do you calculate the volume of a liquid?
- What is mass? Give an example.
- How do you determine the mass of an object?
Materials
- Objects: cubes, rocks, dense wood
- Triple Beam Balance
- Ruler
- Graduated cylinder(s)
- Water
Safety
- Always wear safety goggles when handling chemicals in the lab.
- Students should wash their hands thoroughly before leaving the lab.
- When students complete the lab, instruct them how to clean up their materials and dispose of any chemicals.
Procedure
- Find the volume of the rectangular solid or cube. Record all necessary data in the table below. Show all work for your calculations.
Measurements |
Data |
Height of the solid |
cm |
Length of the solid |
cm |
Width of the solid |
cm |
Calculate the volume using the formula below: (show all work) (H) x (L) x (W) = _____ cm^{3} |
- Find the mass of the rectangular solid or cube using a triple beam balance.
- Set the scale: slide all of the riders on the beams to “0”, and make sure the pointer “floats” at 0. If it doesn’t use the adjustment knob or ask your teacher for help.
- To measure the mass of the object, place it on the plate.
- Begin with the largest slider, move it one increment to see if the scale balances.
- If the largest slider is too heavy, move it back to zero and move the next largest slider.
- Keep moving the sliders until the balance lines up (floats!) at the “0” value on the far end of the balance.
- Record data in the table below.
Measurements | Data |
Beam #1 result | g |
Beam #2 result | g |
Beam #3 result | g |
Add the results of the 3 beams together | g |
- Find the volume of an irregularly shaped object using water displacement.
- Obtain a graduated cylinder. First, make sure the object can fit easily inside of the cylinder, without being restricted. If it cannot, you will need a larger cylinder.
- Add water to the graduated cylinder. Estimate the amount of water to that it should completely cover the irregularly shaped object when it is added.
Measurements | Data |
How much water did you add in step b? | ml |
Carefully add the object to the graduated cylinder. Then, record the new measurement of the water (use the meniscus). | ml |
Subtract the original volume of water from the final volume of water. | ml |
What is the volume of the irregular solid? | ml |
Conclusion
Mass and volume are both considered physical properties. Why are physical properties important? What are some other examples of physical properties? Can all physical properties be measured?