Lesson Plan

Dunking For Density

An application project of the density concept using Google Apps For Education
Janice L A.
Special education instructor
Grosse Pointe South High School
Grosse Pointe Farms, United States
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Science

This is a multi-day lesson that can be used in the co-teaching setting of a high school science class. This project-based learning experience challenges students of all academic performance levels, including those who have learning disabilities, to apply the concept of density to a real-world problem. The teamwork aspects of the project, along with the application of science and math principles, make it perfect for the co-taught science classroom in biology, chemistry, or physics classes at the high school level.

Students will be able to...

  • design and conduct an experiment to determine the density of a boy and girl in class
  • create a multimedia presentation to document their experiment and findings
  • document all aspects of a project using Google Apps
Grades 9 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 The Hook

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Have students log into the GoSoapBox classroom event. Open up a polling question that gives students only two choices, "boys" or "girls," to answer the following question that you will pose at the beginning of the class:

  • Who do you think is denser: boys or girls?

Have students cast their vote on GoSoapBox, and then display the results on the classroom projector as well as allow the audience to view the results of the poll on their device.

  • After students have viewed the results, open up a discussion prompt that asks students: "what made you vote the way that you did?"

Give students a chance to explain their vote, in terms of what they know about density and their prior knowledge, and allow the results to be viewable by the audience.

Display and dialogue about some of the responses to this discussion prompt with the class before moving on to the project. 

Questions you might ask students during the discussion of responses could be:

  1. What evidence do you have for that?
  2. What would that physically imply about the person?
  3. Is there a way for a boy or girl to change their density, their mass, or their volume?

After the class has discussed the topic and some student responses, have the class re-vote on the original polling question. Tell them this will be their hypothesis as a class for an upcoming investigation into the problem of the density of people.

2 Direct Instruction

Google Drive
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Open up a class-shared blank document on Google Drive with the students and have them all call up the document on their devices. Instruct them that they are going to investigate whether boys or girls are denser than the other.

Title the Google Document, "Density Investigation of People."

  1. Label the beginning section of the document, "Experimental Question:" and have students volunteer their phrasing of the question to be investigated. Guide them toward something like, "are males denser than females?"
  2. Label the next section of the document, "Hypothesis:" and have students recall the class consensus from the GoSoapBox poll about who was denser, boys or girls. Have students come up with their hypothesis statement based on the class polling results and write it under this section.
  3. Label the following section of the document, "Procedure," and ask students to edit the document, in groups of 3-4, to develop a procedure for how they could do a project to answer the experimental question. Give students five minutes to brainstorm.
  4. Facilitate the group work brainstorming by talking with each group and monitoring the students' ideas on the shared Google Document.
  5. Now bring the group back together as a whole class to discuss the preliminary procedural steps. Students will have posted a variety of ideas, including things such as 'put a person in a hot tub/pool to measure their volume using water displacement' or 'use a scale to get the weight of a person' and 'calculate the density of a person by dividing their mass by their volume.'
  6. Guide the class to narrow the procedure down to the fewest steps possible and word every step in an action-oriented phrasing.
  7. Help students to realize the limitations of the procedural steps based on the equipment available in the classroom and the limitations of measuring tools.
  8. Move the discussion toward having the class select one boy and one girl student volunteer to determine their density for comparison.
  9. Encourage the students to design their project for the scale of the classroom.
  10. Offer ideas for them to consider, such as, "could we use a large trash can full of water to measure their volume instead of the pool?"
  11. Ultimately, students need to consider an experimental setup that includes a large trash can inside of a kiddie pool filled with water for measuring the volume of the students. They can get the weight of a student and use a calculation to obtain the mass of the student. Once they have the mass and volume, they can calculate the density.
  12. After students arrive at consensus about the overall procedure, they will need to divide up tasks among the groups to plan for the project. 
  13. Each group should have a role that includes: collecting displaced water, measuring displaced water volume, performing calculations, recording results, ensuring accuracy of measuring (e.g., collecting all the displaced water...quality control) and media team (students to take photos/video for the project to include in the presentation report later.)


3 Guided Practice

Google Drive
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The specific procedure students should arrive at should be something as follows:

  1. students volunteer to have their density determined
  2. materials are obtained (trash can, kiddie pool, empty milk jugs and 2L soda bottles, funnels, large turkey basters, measuring cups, towels)
  3. the "dunk tank" is constructed: a trash can filled to the brim with water inside of a kiddie pool 
  4. student volunteers are helped to ease into the dunk tank so that they completely submerge and displace all possible water into the kiddie pool
  5. students with measuring cups and containers in hand collect the displaced water and pass them over to a measuring station
  6. "runners" pass full containers and empty containers between the measuring station and the students collecting the water
  7. recorders take down the amount of water volume collected in each container into a Google Spreadsheet
  8. Students working alongside the recorders perform necessary unit conversions to get all recorded volume measurements into a single unit for combining to obtain total water volume displaced
  9. The water collection, measuring, calculations and recording continues until all of the water volume is accounted for
  10. A clean-up crew makes sure to keep the floor dry so that no one slips
  11. Once all the volume is recorded, the student volunteer exits the "dunk tank" to get dried and changed
  12. The "dunk tank" is refilled for the next student volunteer and the entire procedure is repeated so that data is collected for a boy and girl in the class

The teacher monitors all the steps of the procedure, ensuring that (before the project begins) all student groups have a designated task and all tasks are accounted for

4 Independent Practice

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Once the experiment is complete and data is obtained, students should return to the whole class discussion to plan the project report and presentation.

Teacher should instruct the students that the class needs to create a report for the project that uses the data to formulate a conclusion about the experimental question and hypothesis. Give the class a chance to plan what they want to include in their report and which group will be responsible for which parts of the report.

Give students time on Google Presentations to create a class report by collaborating between all groups. Each group should have access to the data in the Google Spreadsheet and their specific task in creating the project report.

As students are working on their section of the report, the teacher should check in with each group to monitor their progress and ensure that they are supported as needed with that part of the project. 

5 Wrap-Up

The closing event for this project will be when the class presents their final project report. This will be done in class after the students are finished collaborating on the creation of a project report using Google Presentations. After students have created their Google Presentation for the project report, the teacher should provide an in-class opportunity for the students to present their project, including procedure, results, conclusions, and a discussion/reflection of the project overall. Students will select a small group of representatives from the class to give the presentation and show any photo/video taken during the project. 

Allow students to give their presentation, show any video clips, and leave time for teacher and student questions. Ask each student in the audience during the presentation to record two pieces of feedback for the presentation, using the statement stems: "I noticed..." and "I wonder..."

The teacher should question the presenters as well as other students in the class about the project, results, conclusions, and how it ties back into the concept of density that has been learned in class. Students can share their feedback statements during this time. Be sure to ask the students to engage in various levels of depth of knowledge during the discussion to assess their understanding of the project and the tie-back to the concept of density. During the wrap-up, the teacher can further develop the students' application of density by discussing other applications to health, fitness, and physiology, such as with swimming or scuba diving.

After the presentation, each student in the class should write a short reflection on the project, what they learned, and how they would improve the project if they had the opportunity to do it again. The reflections should be written using student blogs, which can be done on Blogger using students' Google Accounts.