Floating and sinking

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Is getting in the bath a way to lose weight?

Lesson idea. This activity is based on materials that float and sink; also mass in air and mass when there is an up-thrust.

Teaching approach. This activity supports a number of learning types:

  • small group work(ta) - investigation conducted by small groups reporting back to the class.
  • whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) - discussion of each situation open-ended questions(ta) – why did this happen? what do you think causes this movement?
  • peer assessment(ta) – do peers agree?
  • project work – linked in with the rest of the activities in this OER, topic work in design and technology, literacy, numeracy.
  • inquiry(ta)-based learning – initial presentation to the class can be framed as a problem for them to solve; co-enquiry – children working collaboratively
  • arguing and reasoning(ta) – persuading each other of their explanations.
  • exploring ideas – developing understanding of key scientific principles.
Resource details
Title What floats and what sinks
Topic [[Topics/Force|Force]]
Teaching approach

[[Teaching Approaches/Assessment|Assessment]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Dialogue|Dialogue]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Questioning|Questioning]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Whole class|Whole class]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Group work|Group work]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Inquiry|Inquiry]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Reasoning|Reasoning]]

Learning Objectives
  • Gaining understanding of the nature of force and the way in which force acts on objects in the context of floating and sinking in water.
  • Gathering data and drawing conclusions.


Age of students / grade


Related ORBIT Wiki Resources
Files and resources to view and download

This resource was adapted from resources and original ideas contributed by Paul Warwick, at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.