Go With the Flow

My grade 8 students are currently learning about the properties of fluids. They already conducted labs on density and viscosity, and are now adding buoyancy into the mix. This will be followed with discussions of hydraulics and pneumatics. In order for them to explore how all of these properties work together, these are the activities I have planned for the next few weeks:

Build a tin foil boat that can hold as many pennies as possible:

My students have already completed this. I modified the activity that was presented in our Nelson Science and Technology resource, but a similar activity can be found here.

Float My Boat

The students were not only challenged to find a way to build a boat that held as many pennies as possible, but they also wanted to “outdo” their peers by having their boat hold more pennies. It was a fun day filled with learning and friendly competition. As a follow up, students were asked to explain how the tin foil boat design was modified as they carried out the activity and identify which design worked best, and why.


Explorations with diving balls, Cartesian divers, and density kits:

Cartesian Diver Activities from the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Resources from The Marine Institute

Density Block Activity from Arbor Scientific


Investigation of Ballast Water:

Students will research the problems associated with using ballast tanks and some of the solutions currently in use. They will present their findings through the viewpoint of those affected, and they will be required to consider their audience. This is an IB task, and the rubrics follow the IB standards.

Ballast Water Management


Investigation of Hydraulics and Pneumatics:

After conceptual discussions, the students will have time to explore hydraulics and pneumatics while using syringes and tubing. They will then design a hydraulic or pneumatic system that will move an object a certain distance.

Make it Move


As students explore, the following interactive sites and videos will be available for them:

Balloons and Buoyancy Interactive Simulation – from PhET lab, explore by filling the balloons with different gases

Buoyancy Explorer Interactive Activity – from SEED, drop blocks into different liquids to see what will happen

Eureka Video on Buoyancy

Brainpop Science Buoyancy Site

How Stuff Works – Submarines

If you have any other great resources that I can incorporate, I would love to hear about them.
Have a great week.

Leave a Reply