Will It Float?by: Dan Vincent, Jeanie Milligan, and Darlinda Cassel

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In this science investigation based on the 5E learning model, students moved through four different centers designed to focus their attention on the concepts of mass, volume, and density. At these stations, students encountered discrepant events that heightened their curiosity and encouraged discussion with peers about what they expected and observed. They answered questions and made predictions based on these observations.

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  • on Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:20 AM

The article I read was “Will It Float” by Dan Vincent, Darlinda Cassel, and Jeanie Milligan. The article begins with how the idea for the article came about. Fifth graders were sorting candy bars such as Snickers and Three Musketeers by predictions of weights. After weighing the candy bars, students were shocked that the Snickers bars weighted more than the Three Musketeers bar, even though the Three Musketeers bar is larger. The fifth graders found it mind-boggling that smaller objects can weigh more than larger objects. The authors of this article developed a lesson for students to learn more about mass, volume, and density. The activities that went along with the lesson incorporated the 5E Learning Model. The 5 “E’s” are: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, and Evaluate. For the first “E” Engage, students went through four centers that allowed them to observe and feel items in order to make a prediction. They had to decide if the materials such as wood, pumice rock, steel spheres, and a Cartesian Diver (made from a two liter bottle and glass dropper) would either sink or float. Their predictions were to be recorded on a worksheet. The sinking of the South American tree wood, Lignum Vitae, let the students know that there are some types of wood that do sink (Vincent, Cassel, & Milligan, 2008). Next, students explored with an activity measuring eight different objects. Students had time to think by classifying into two lists which objects would float or sink. After students made their predictions, they calculated the mass and volume of each object and calculated the volume displacement. For Explain, students presented their data findings to the class. Students had to work with their group members to create a graph of the data and explain how they calculated mass, volume and density. The fourth “E” Extend was applied when the sink-or-float activity solidified student thinking. The last “E” Evaluate allows teachers to assess student understanding of the concept. Questions asked by the teacher let the teacher know which students had a hard time with the investigation. Teachers can use that information to reteach mass, volume, and density if needed. Reference Vincent, D. , Cassel, D. , & Milligan, J. (2008). Will It Float? Science and Children, February, 36-39.

Kia Shields
Kia Shields

  • on Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:18 AM

This article shows a 5E lesson plan on density. Probably the best thing about this lesson is the way the teachers get the students to discover density. I think it's great that the teachers spend the time to show the relationship between mass and volume. They mentioned that they had the luxury of time and it seemed to be on successive days. But I don't see any reason why it couldn't be spread out. Also I love the engage part using the centers with discrepancies. It seems like a great way to get the students interested.

David Robinson  (Arnold, MD)
David Robinson (Arnold, MD)

  • on Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:43 AM

This article gives a very detailed 5E lesson plan about density, mass, and volume. The part that I find the most interesting is how students started out the lesson by going to four different stations to explore the concepts before going on with the more detailed and difficult parts of the lesson. This gave them a nice background to refer to.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:43 PM

This article, aimed at the elementary level, shows a lesson (or series of lessons) written as learning cycle (5E) lesson plan, where a series of discrepant events are used to help kids understand floating and sinking. Several centers are used that will help kids think differently about the concepts. The only thing I wish is that the authors would have used more readily available items.

Wendy R  (Pocatello, ID)
Wendy R (Pocatello, ID)

  • on Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:34 PM

This article provides a step by step example of how to combine the 5E method with learning stations. Students in a fifth grade class were encouraged to develop a deeper understanding of mass, volume, and density. By the use of basic math understandings and basic science measurement skills students moved from station to station in the engage phase of the 5E method. This lesson can be easily modified for different grades and is a great example of how to incorporation science, math and inquiry in a classroom.

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

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