What Is a Graduated Cylinder? - Definition, Uses & Function

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  • 0:01 Graduated Cylinder Function
  • 1:28 Characteristics
  • 2:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Williams
Graduated cylinders are key piece of equipment in a standard scientific laboratory. They are critical for measuring liquid volumes in routine experiments. This lesson discusses graduated cylinders and their function in experimentation.

Function of the Graduated Cylinder

There is a saying: 'You are only as good as your tools.' This is one of the most accurate statements when it comes to the field of science. Scientists use a variety of chemical, physical, and electronic equipment in order to investigate natural occurrences. Many of these tools are complex and very sophisticated. However, some of the more basic tools function on simple scientific principles. One of these tools, the graduated cylinder, is a key component of a scientist's arsenal. Let's discuss the functions and properties of the graduated cylinder and why it is so important for scientific discovery.

Scientists often have to use specific amounts of liquid in order to conduct experiments. Because these amounts must be accurate, it is important that a scientist have a method for measuring exact amounts. The graduated cylinder is used for measuring volumes (amounts) of liquids. This piece of equipment is used routinely, although it is only moderately accurate compared to other tools, such as volumetric flasks. Volumetric flasks are used when absolute precision (accuracy) is needed.

Graduated cylinders are also used to determine displacement, which is a measurement of the change in a volume of water when additional materials are added to it. This means that the volume of solid objects and non-aqueous (lacking water) solutions can be determined using a graduated cylinder.

Graduated Cylinders of Different Sizes
graduated cylinder

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