Why Cheerios Don't Sink
CHRISTINE S. SMITH ENGLEWOOD HIGH SCHOOL
6201 S. STEWART AVENUE
CHICAGO, IL 60621
Students will participate in the demonstration in order to discover
Archimedes' Principle and how it relates to density, and gain practice in using
the scientific method.
Large beaker (5000 mL), 200g weight, styrofoam bowl, water, spring scale or
pan balance with hook, overflow cans, graduate cylinder, string, wax pencil
1. Add 3000 mL of water to the beaker; place the 200 g weight at the bottom of
the beaker and float the styrofoam "boat" on top . Mark the level of water.
2. Ask the question, "What will happen to the level of the water if I take the
weight out of the water and place it in the boat?".
3. Ask students to explain their predictions. Take the weight out and place it in
4. Ask students how they could verify their hypothesis. Make balances, overflow
cans, and graduates available.
5. Students will weigh the 200 g object outside of the water and then weigh it
while it suspended in the water. Using an overflow can they will collect the
water that the object displaced and measure its volume and mass. Measure and
calculate the volume of the 200 g object.
6. From step 5 students will determine :
a: Object's weight loss in water = Displaced water's weight
b: Object's volume = Displaced water's volume
c: Water's mass = Water's volume
7. Students will repeat step 5 for the object and boat while it floats.
8. From step 7 students will determine:
a: Object's weight loss on water = Displaced water's weight
b: Object appears weightless
c: Object's volume > Displaced water's volume
9. From steps 5 and 7 students will state:
a: Archimedes' Principle: Objects will lose weight in water equal to the
weight of water they displace.
b: Density = Mass / Volume
Water: Mass = Volume Density of water = 1 g/mL
Floating Objects: Mass < Volume Density < 1 g/mL
Sinking Objects: Mass > Volume Density > 1 g/mL
10. Give students a ball of clay and have them drop it in a beaker of water; ask
them to make the object float.
11. Have students determine the density of Cheerios.
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