Archimedes' Principle Lesson Plan

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Use this lesson plan to introduce students to Archimedes' principle. Students will watch a video lesson, discuss buoyancy, and complete a hands-on lab activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define buoyancy.
  • define Archimedes' principle.


60 - 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.


Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.


Each lab group will need:

  • One wooden cylinder
  • One metal cylinder
  • One large graduated cylinder large enough to hold the wooden and metal cylinders
  • Calculator
  • Ruler
  • Scale or balance
  • Copies of the Archimedes' Principle Lab, one for each group


  • Begin the lesson by placing an object that floats into a container of water. Ask students why it floats. How is the water itself interacting with the object to make it float?
  • Start the video lesson Archimedes' Principle: Definition, Formula & Examples. Pause the video at 1:06 to discuss the following questions as a class:
    • What is Archimedes' principle?
    • What is buoyancy? How is it related to Archimedes' principle?
  • Resume the video. Pause it again at 2:19 to discuss the following questions:
    • What is the total weight that is displaced when an object floats?
    • How does buoyancy keep a huge ship afloat?
    • Why does ice float in water?
  • Resume and finish the video.
  • Next, go through the provided example step-by-step. It may be helpful to replay this part of the video one step at a time.
  • Provide a few other example problems for calculating the displacement of a floating object. When you feel comfortable with the students' understanding of the concept, proceed to the lab activity.

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