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3 Determining Density

Introduction

How full is the bag that you take to each of your classes? Can you put any more

stuff into it? What happens to the size of the bag? What happens to the mass of the

bag? The size of the bag likely stayed the same, though the bag itself is probably

about to burst open. When the volume of something stays the same while the mass

increases, then the density increases.

In this activity you will measure volume and mass to determine the density of several

objects.

Equipment

Engineering notebook

Triple beam balance or scale

Graduated cylinder

Dial calipers

Automoblox people and

wheels

Wooden puzzle cube blocks

Steel spheres

Delrin spheres

Paper clips

(Optional) Aluminum ruler

Density and Uses of Common

Materials Chart

Introduction to Engineering Design Activity 5.3 Determining Density Page 1

Procedure

1. Measure the mass or weight of the Delrin, steel, and wood samples as directed

by your instructor. For improved accuracy, measure ten samples of each material

and calculate the average mass or average weight. Record values including units

to the appropriate precision based on the precision of the scale. Note that you

need only measure either mass in SI units or weight in US units, not both.

Delrin

Mass/weight of 10

samples

(include units)

Steel

Wood

Mass (SI)

Weight

(US)

Mass (SI)

Weight

(US)

Mass (SI)

Weight

(US)

mass/we

ight of a

single

sample

(include

units)

Weight

(US)

Mass (SI)

Weight

(US)

Mass (SI)

Weight

(US)

2. Calculate the volume of the Delrin, steel, and wood samples. For improved

accuracy, measure three samples of each material and calculate the average

volume. Record and calculate values to the appropriate precision including units.

When adding or multiplying measurements, record the sum or product to the

precision of the least precise number involved in the calculation.

Delrin (diameter)

Steel (diameter)

Wood (wdh)

Volume formula

(sphere or rectangular

prism, as appropriate)

Measurement #1

Calculate volume

(Show all steps

including units)

Measurement #2

Calculate volume

(Show all steps

including units)

Measurement #3

Calculate volume

(Show all steps

including units)

Calculate average

of three volume

measurements

(Show all steps

including units)

3. Calculate the density of the Delrin, steel, and wood samples. Show units for each

measurement or quantity.

Delrin

Steel

Wood

Average of a

single sample

Average of three

volume

measurements

Formula for

density

Calculate density

(Show all steps

including units)

Formula to convert

from SI to US

system or from US

to SI system

Convert density

from SI to US

system or from US

to SI System

(Show all steps

including units)

4. Do your results correspond to published values for the density of steel, Derlin

and wood? If not, why do you think your density value(s) vary from the published

values?

data calculated in number three above. Format the information in a table similar

to that shown below. Print your table and attach to this activity.

Delrin

Units

Steel

Wood

Units

Units

Mass of 3 samples

Mass Average

Volume of sample

Density (SI)

Density (US)

6. Consider how you might determine the material from which an object is made. If

you are given a sample of a metal (which you know is either steel or aluminum),

a graduated cylinder and a balance or scale, how could you determine from

which metal the object is made?

Obtain an Automoblox vehicle from your teacher. Study the Automoblox people and

the wheels.

1 Are the Automoblox people made of the same material as the Automoblox

wheels? Why do you think so? How might you test your hypothesis?

1 You will determine the density of the plastic used to manufacture the Automoblox

people and the Automoblox wheels. Measure the mass of the four Automoblox

people and wheels. For improved accuracy, measure the four Automoblox people

together and then measure the four wheels together. Record values including

units to the appropriate number of significant digits.

Automoblox People

Automoblox Wheels

Total

mass/weight

of all

sample(s)

(include units)

7. Measure the volume of the four Automoblox figures and then measure the

volume of the four wheels. Because of the irregular form of each object, the

volume is more easily measured using a graduated cylinder.

a. Add water to the graduated cylinder until it is approximately 2/3 full.

b. Record the water level.

c. Carefully add samples.

d. Record the new water level.

Automoblox People

Automoblox Wheels

samples

(Include units)

Water level with

samples

(Include units)

Water volume

displaced = volume

of sample(s)

(Show calculations)

8. Calculate the density (by hand or using Excel) of the four Automoblox figures and

four wheel samples. Complete the table below or attach a print of your Excel

worksheet. Be sure to include units with all measurements and quantities.

Automoblox People

Automoblox Wheels

Total mass/weight

of sample(s)

Volume of

sample(s)

Formula for density

Density (SI)

Density (US)

9. Does your data support or refute you hypothesis (from number 1 above)?

Explain.

10. Refer to the Common Materials Density and Uses Chart. Use your results to

make an educated guess as to the material used in the manufacture of the

Automoblox people and wheels. What other tests might further substantiate your

guess?

1 Measure the mass of the aluminum ruler and paper clip samples. Choose the

appropriate number of samples of each if an average is needed for improved

accuracy. Record values including units.

Aluminum Ruler

Paper Clips

Total mass of

sample(s)

11. Measure or calculate the volume of the aluminum ruler and paper clip samples.

[Note that you can calculate the volume of the ruler without submerging it in

water.] Show all measurements if using the indirect measurement. Sketch the

object if using the calculation method.

12. Calculate the density of the aluminum ruler and paper clip samples by hand or

using Excel. Complete the table below or include a print of your Excel worksheet.

Be sure to use the mass and volume based on the same number of objects.

Show units for all measurements and calculated quantities.

Aluminum Ruler

Paper Clips

Mass of sample(s)

Volume of

sample(s)

Formula for density

Density (SI units)

13. Do your results support the manufacturers claim that the ruler is made of

aluminum? Justify your answer. (Refer to the Common Materials Density and

Uses chart.)

14. Are the paper clips made from the same material as the ruler? How do you

know?

Conclusion

1 How can you use density to identify a material?

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