Density as a Unique Physical Property

Teresa Granito Von Steuben M.S.C.
5039 N. Kimball Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
(312) 534-5100


The student will:
1. Learn how to determine the mass of an object.
2. Learn how to determine the volume of an object by two techniques:
using volume formulas and displacement of water.
3. Learn how to determine the density of an object.
4. Discover that density is a unique physical property of matter.
5. Identify an unknown substance.

Materials needed:

1. Two shapes of a variety of different, labeled, substances (aluminum,
brass, etc.). One should be easily measurable with a ruler, the
other should have an irregular shape.
2. Rulers
3. Graduated cylinders
4. Calculators
5. A list of actual densities
6. A variety of "unknowns"


1. At each lab station place two different shapes of the same substance
and have the students determine which technique of measuring volume
is more appropriate (they must use each technique).
2. Have them mass the objects and determine the densities.
3. The density of both objects should be placed on the board.
4. When all of the students have finished, write the actual densities of
the substances on the board.
5. Have the students obtain an unknown and identify it.
6. Ask the students what some possible reasons for any differences
between the two densities may be.
7. Ask the students what they conclude about the densities of the same


Because the students are given two different shapes of the same material
they not only are practicing two different techniques of determining
volume, but also they are discovering that density is a unique physical
property of a substance which can be used to identify it.
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