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Published by: TigerWoodsFoundation on Jun 28, 2013
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Title: Density of Glass Fragments
Physical Science
Middle School
Properties and changed of properties in matter.
A substance has characteristicproperties, such as density, a boiling point, and solubility, all of which areindependent of the amount of thesample. A mixture of substancesoften can be separated into theoriginal substances using one or more of the characteristic properties.
Students will identify the physical propertiesof glass and calculate the density of different types of glass.
60 minutes
Resource Sheet:
Water Displacement Method 
 Student Sheet:
Glass Fragments
Five glass fragments from different sources (mirror, Plexiglas, window, light bulb, tempered glass)Graduated cylindersDigital scalesSmall envelopes TweezersWater Board/chart paper 
Fast Facts
is mass per unit volume.
is the quantity of matter in an object.
is the space that a substance (solid,liquid, gas, or plasma) occupies or contains. The formula to calculate density is:Density =
).Mass with the gravitational force on an object isreferred to as weight.One can calculate mass, volume, or density aslong as two of the three variables are given.(mass = volume x density)(volume =
) You can measure the volume of an object using the water displacement method. The
 water displacement method
is used to findthe volume of an object based on the amount of liquid displaced.
Chemical Property 
is any characteristic that givesa substance the ability to undergo a change that results in a new substance. For example: burning wood/ baking a cake.
Physical Property 
is any characteristic that can beobserved or measured without changing thecomposition of matter. For example: size, shape.
Have the warm up question posted on the board as students enter the room, “How can an investigator differentiate oneglass sample from another?” Using the Physical Property definition in Fast Facts, have students share their responses tothis question based on the physical properties of glass.2.
 To introduce the lesson, share with students a story on a crime that was committed - "There was a hit and run caaccident in the school parking lot this morning. The police have requested that the students from this class compare theglass fragments found at the crime scene with those taken from two suspects’ vehicles. You will need to report your findings to the police department as soon as possible."3.
 Take students to the "crime scene" and have them collect the evidence (several pieces of each glass fragment sample)using tweezers.
Have students get into groups of four. Using the information in Fast Facts, tell the groups they will be required to note the“physical properties” of individual glass fragments as well as their density.2.
Explain to students they will need to describe the physical property of each glass fragment sample. Groups will need todistinguish one fragment from the others (for example, color, texture, size, shape). Have each student name the type of glass and record their answers under the Physical Properties column on the Student Sheet.3.
On the board / chart paper write the formula for density (Density = Mass / Volume). Using information in Fast Facts,explain the formula used to calculate density and define terms ‘mass’ and ‘volume.’4.
Distribute one scale to each group, and have groups weigh each glass fragment sample in milligrams. Have studentsrecord the mass (in mg) under the Mass column on the Student Sheet.5.
Distribute Resource Sheet:
Water Displacement Method 
and review with students how to measure the volume of anirregular object. Students will use this method to determine the volume of an object.6.
Distribute one graduated cylinder to each group. Also distribute one separate cup with a small amount of water to eachgroup.7.
Have students find the volume of each glass fragment and record the volume (in mL) under the Volume column on theStudent Sheet.8.
Have students calculate the density by using the formula D =
) and have them record their answer under theDensity column on the Student Sheet.
Why were the physical properties of glass important to investigating this crime scene?2.
How can knowing the density of the glass fragments found at a crime scene be helpful in solving a crime?
Adapted from  TeachersFirst.com
Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®
Copyright © 1998-2013 by The Source for Learning, Inc. All rights reserved.
Note to Teacher:
 The “crime scene” can be a separate table within the classroom, or it can be an outside location that has been setup prior to the class. If the “crime scene” is an outside location, return to the class for the next steps in the activityafter collecting the evidence.
Note to Teacher:
Be sure to have the students repeat steps 7 – 11 for each fragment of glass and record themass, volume, and density on the Student Sheet.
Graduated cylinder 
Various Glass Fragments
Fill a graduated cylinder with water up to 20 milliliters.
image courtesy of learn.uci.edu
Drop a glass fragment in the graduated cylinder and see how much water is displaced.
image courtesy of learn.uci.edu
Subtract the higher number from the lower number and that will be the volume of your object.a.
30mL – 20mL = 10mL 

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