The 6th graders are learning about different properties of matter and how to measure them. Properties like mass and volume were straightforward for them to understand while density remained abstract. So we chose to do a couple of activities to get a better understanding.
First, they were given similar sized cubes made of different metals and a list of densities of standard metals. Their task is to identify the metal by finding the density of the cube and comparing it with the given list to find the closest match. This helped them to understand that density is a characteristic property that is unique to every material.
They extended the inquiry by investigating whether the size of an object affects its density. They found the density of a ball of play dough and compared it with the density after halving the size of the ball. This helped them to understand that the density of a material remains the same irrespective of its size or shape. This activity also gave them an opportunity to try out the water displacement to find the volume of irregularly shaped objects.