Sink or Float?


First grade was a long time ago for me, so it took some getting used to that some of the basics are still new territory for these kids. I had a big science day planned.

1) an assortment of object to test whether they sink or float in water
2) 5 objects for which to form a hypothesis
3) conduct an experiment with those five objects and record the results
4) see if you can make something that sinks float by combining objects
We only got to #3 and it was an ambitious morning.

One of the things I learned was to ask the kids questions. I wrote “sink” and “float” on the board. We have some non-native English speakers in the class and someone didn’t know what “float” meant. So I asked if anyone could define it. Many hands went up in the air. The first answer was: something floats when it floats. I then challenged them to define the word without using it. It took a while for someone to come up with: something that does not sink. Then after some prodding there were more descriptive responses.

inspired by UTexas First Grade Lab

Feedback from a reader, Betsy Bragg:

Jane,age 5, enjoyed the experiment. She put a few drops of red vegetable dye in the water and green dye in vegetable oil. Then Jane poured the oil into the glass of water. She discovered that it floated. I wish that your website allowed us to send you the photos of the experiment.