Science 101: How can an ocean liner made of steel float on water?by: William C. Robertson, Ph.D.

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Sinking and floating is a subject covered in many science classes, from kindergarten through college physics. Even the audiences of late-night talk shows get to predict whether an object will sink or float in water. And of course, we all know that witches will float if they weigh the same as a duck (Monty Python reference). Yet one of the most common examples of sinking and floating seems to go against common sense. How can something made of steel—a heavy metal—float in water?

  • Elementary
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Reviews (2)
  • on Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:00 PM

Robertson provides wonderful activities and explanations to help teachers and students understand buoyant force versus gravitational force. Density and displacement are also discussed, with several examples provided. The activities within the article are easily replicable and would provide students with an understanding of buoyancy.

Sandra Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandra Gady (Renton, WA)

  • on Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:08 PM

Floating and sinking have more to do than the weight of an object. This article explores the forces that object experience when placed in water. The article explains buoyancy by providing some simple activities that the reader can try to help understand the science behind floating heavy objects. This is a good read for science teachers.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

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