"What are we doing to help kids achieve?"
If you are looking for a measuring and density activity that will be challenging, allow students to experience success early on and can be boxed up to use again, you might consider trying the activity that I am sharing in this post.
Students just finished work on measuring. I wanted an activity where they had to put their measuring skills into pratice. The activity developed into one in which they immediately know if they measured correctly. The objects they measure are five pieces of polymer clay. Polymer clay is a relatively inexpensive material that can be molded easily and baked in the oven. The final product are plastic-like pieces. The five pieces in each lab set are different shapes, sizes, mass and different markings. Each group gets a different color. One of the five pieces of clay has metal shot (lead works well) embedded inside it. Students are not allowed to break open or destroy the clay pieces. Students are told that somehow they must determine which of the five pieces has been tampered with and is not pure clay.
The class spends time brainstorming. The brainstorming session usually leads to determining the density of each piece. The density is usually found by getting the volume through water displacement and then finding the mass. The water displacement is familier to some students but not all. If students do not carefully measure to the correct significant figures then they will struggle with determining the correct "tampered" piece.
This activity for me as a teacher has morphed over the years. The activity lends itself well to differentiation. Some classes are given more or less information depending on the level of the class. The class can also be given "distractors" (What is this funnel for ?). The students in the class can get instant feedback. The student's success depends more on an actual action and less about "Did I get the right answer on my paper?". It is appropriate for most student skill levels at this time of the year. Students are also provided the option of doing a retake if they did not identify the correct piece.
There are many density and measuring activities to choose from. This is a nice one with little prep time (after the initial creation of the pieces). The activity can be boxed and done year after year and changed depending on the level of students. Do you have a similar activity? Please share...would love to hear from you.