Lesson summary for Teachers

View the video clip below to view what you and your students will do in this lesson.

You are watching: Which is denser water or oil

Downloadables:Lesson plan (PDF) |Student task Sheet (PDF) |Student reading (PDF) |Teacher elevator (PDF) |Connections to NGSS (PDF)


Students will have the ability to explain the the density of a liquid has to do with how heavy it is for the sample size. College student will additionally be able to explain that if a fluid is more dense than water, it will sink when included to water, and also if that is less thick than water, it will float.

Key Concepts

A liquid, similar to a solid, has actually its very own characteristic density.The thickness of a liquid is a measure up of how hefty it is for the quantity measured. If you sweet equal quantities or quantities of two different liquids, the liquid the weighs more is more dense.If a liquid that is less thick than water is gently included to the surface of the water, it will float top top the water. If a liquid the is more dense than water is added to the surface of the water, it will certainly sink.

Note: we are intentionally using the terms “size” and also “amount” instead of “volume” in this lesson around density. We are likewise using “heavy”, “light”, and also “weight” instead of “mass”. If her students have currently learned the interpretations of volume and also mass, friend can easily use those state to specify density (Density = mass/volume), and then use those state in this lesson.

NGSS Alignment

NGSS 5-PS1-3:Make observations and measurements to determine materials based upon their properties.


In the previous lesson, college student learned that thickness has to perform with how heavy things or substance is family member to that size, and that thickness determines whether an item sinks or floats. Students also observed that you deserve to compare the density of a substance to the density of water by to compare the weights the equal amounts of the substance and also water using a balance.

In this lesson:

As a demonstration, the teacher will compare the load of an same amount or volume that water and corn syrup therefore students have the right to observe that corn syrup is much more dense than water and sinks.Students will compare the weight of an same amount or volume that water and vegetable oil and also see the vegetable oil is less thick than water and also floats.Students add corn syrup come layered oil and water and also see the corn syrup sinks below both the oil and also water.


Download the student task sheet (PDF)and distribution one per student once specified in the activity. The activity sheet will serve as the evaluate component the the 5-E lesson plan.


Make sure you and your students wear appropriately fitting security goggles. Isopropil “rubbing” alcohol is a flammable liquid. Save away from heat, sparks, open flames, and also hot surfaces. Isopropil alcohol is likewise irritating to eyes and skin, and may cause drowsiness or dizziness ifinhaled. Occupational with isopropil alcohol in a well-ventilated room. Read and follow all warnings on the label.

Clean-up and Disposal

Remind student to to wash their hands after perfect the activity. All common household or classroom materials have the right to be saved or disposed of in the normal manner.


Water2 clear plastic cupsCorn syrup (Karo syrup), 1 cupFood coloringPopsicle pole or plastic spoonVegetable oilIsopropyl “rubbing” alcohol (70%)Ice cubesBalance

Teacher Preparation

Pour 50 mL of corn syrup, 50 mL that water, and also 50 mL of vegetables oil into three plastic cups for every group.

Note: Corn syrup and vegetable oil have the right to be difficult to clean out of graduated cylinders. To avoid this mess, measure and pour 50 mL that water into each of three plastic cups. Then note the exterior of every cup to indicate the level that the fluid in every cup. Pour the end the water from two of the cups and also dry the inside v a paper towel. Next, usage those cup to measure the amount of corn syrup and vegetable oil because that each group. Add 1 fall of food coloring come the corn syrup.

Each team will require 50 mL that corn syrup, 50 mL that water, and also 50 mL of vegetable oil in different cups.

For the demonstration, girlfriend will require 50mL that water and also 50 mL the corn syrup (colored v 1 drop of food coloring) in separate cups.



1. Do a demonstration to compare the thickness of corn syrup and also water.

Materials because that the demonstration:Water in a clear plastic cup¼ cup corn syrup (Karo syrup) with food coloring in a clean plastic cupPopsicle pole or plastic spoonGraduated cylinder or beakerBalanceProcedureHold up 2 cups and also tell students that you have water in one cup and the exact same amount or volume the corn syrup (colored blue) in the various other cup.Place the cup on opposite end of a balance.Expected results

The corn syrup is heavier, which mirrors that it is more dense than water.


Ask students:Since us weighed equal amounts and the corn syrup to be heavier, is water or corn syrup an ext dense? Corn syrup is an ext dense than water.Predict what will take place if us pour the corn syrup into the water. Will certainly the corn syrup float or sink when included to the water? The corn syrup must sink in the water.Pour the fancy corn syrup right into the cup include water tosee if the corn syrup floats or sinks in the water.Expected result

It will certainly sink.The corn syrup sinks in the water.

Give each college student an activity Sheet (PDF).

See more: Wh A Characteristic Of Ionic Solids Is That They, Ionic Solids

Students will document their observations, and also answer questions around the activity on the activity sheet.