Archimedes Principle Activities & Games

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson to strengthen student understanding of Archimedes' principle. We'll outline games and activities you can do in your classroom to show students what the principle means and how it applies to their lives.

Archimedes' Principle & Active Learning

If you ask students to think about what happens to the level of bath water when they get in or out of the tub, they can probably tell you it rises and falls. If so, they're already familiar with Archimedes and his ideas on buoyancy. That's prior knowledge!

Use this understanding to build and strengthen the concept of Archimedes' principle by doing activities and playing games with your students. After your direct instruction, these hands-on and cooperative experiences should push students to think critically and solve problems, making learning stick!

Boat Float

Students will work in small groups to do this activity, posing questions and finding answers about Archimedes' principle. Then, correlate data as a whole class and lead a discussion about the results, drawing conclusions.

Materials

  • Clear plastic containers, such as the bottom sections of milk or two-liter plastic containers
  • Water
  • Clay
  • Rulers
  • Tape
  • Balances
  • Weights
  • Paper towels

Instructions

  • Divide students into groups of three or four.
  • Create a data chart with students to record weight and water levels. Make a class chart on the board and have students create one in their notebooks.
  • Give each group supplies and instruct them to fill their containers three-quarters full and mark the water level with a tape line.
  • Next, tell students to make a ball with the clay and weigh it, recording the mass in their charts.
  • Students should now place the clay ball into the water and measure the water displacement, recording data.
  • Have students remove the ball and dry it with paper towels.
  • Ask groups to design a boat with their clay, using the same amount as the ball. Have them brainstorm designs first, then create their models.
  • Tell students to place their boats in the water and measure water displacement, recording the results.
  • Now ask students to predict how much weight the boat can hold without sinking. Record the predictions.
  • Instruct groups to add weights one at a time, measuring and recording water displacement as they do so, until the boat sinks. How much did the boat hold? How much water was displaced?
  • Have groups add their data to the class chart, then discuss:
    • How was Archimedes' principle visible in this activity?
    • Why did we get the results we did?
  • Extend the lesson by asking each group to graph their results and write a short concluding paragraph.

Buoyancy Challenge

This game is played with partners and uses everyday materials to help visualize Archimedes' principle and put its concepts to the test. Students will make predictions, test ideas and draw conclusions about their work.

Materials

  • Large, clear plastic tub
  • Water
  • Everyday materials brought from home and found around the classroom
  • Rulers

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