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Displacement Activities for Kids

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Teach your students about displacement with this fun and interactive lesson. We'll show you how to get students active and engaged using hands-on activities to pair with your instruction on water displacement, without breaking the bank.

Teaching Water Displacement

Like most scientific concepts, teaching water displacement is best understood when students have a chance to get busy and active. In other words, showing them the process of water displacement and allowing them to investigate key ideas closely will increase their understanding on the topic. Because the topic is simple - water - you don't have to spend a lot of time, money or energy to make these fun activities and experiments happen.

These activities are geared for students of early elementary age, with adaptation and modification suggestions for each. Though most activities have students working in small lab groups, feel free to arrange students into situations best suited for your unique needs.

Introduction to Water Displacement

Use this simple water displacement activity to give students a basic understanding of the concept. We'll build on these concepts with the following activities, allowing for higher-level questioning and thinking.

Materials

  • Glass jars
  • Gathered classroom materials, such as math counters and blocks
  • Markers
  • Science journals
  • Rulers
  • Water
  • Pitchers (to hold water)
  • Scales

Instructions

  • Divide students into lab groups and have them label their science journals 'Water Displacement.'
  • Distribute scales, one jar, ruler, marker and pitchers to each group and have them set aside.
  • Give groups time to collect materials from around the classroom. Groups should gather 15 - 20 items.
  • Have students weigh their items and record in their science journals.
  • Now, have students measure the halfway mark on their jars and use the marker to mark. Then, pour water to this spot.
  • Discuss:
    • What will happen to the water mark as you put these items into the water? Why?
  • Have students estimate how much the water will rise as they place items in the water, using markers to mark beforehand.
  • Now, have students place items in the water. What happens? Record results and answer:
    • Why did the water rise?
    • What impact did the weight of the item have on water displacement?
    • How accurate were your predictions? Why?
    • What can you conclude about water displacement?

Extensions and Adaptations

  • Have students record their data in a chart, and allow them to adjust their predictions during the experiment as they begin to get a feel for the displacement results.
  • For homework, ask students to repeat the experiment with parents and explain the results.

Fruit Displacement

Now that students have the basics down, challenge them to think more deeply about what makes displacement happen using yummy fruit.

Materials

  • Glass jars
  • Different varieties of fruit (make sure to have oranges)
  • Water
  • Pitchers to hold water
  • Markers
  • Rulers

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