This week in school, I had the opportunity to teach the concept of floating and sinking to my year 2 and 3 composite groups. This activity followed hot on the heels of last week’s university lecture about Floating and Sinking.

My school experience’s concept for the term is Connections. “My Connections – Sense of Belonging”

For this science activity the learning intention was:

We are learning to make connections by using what we know:

  • What things float?
  • What things sink?

We began with a very quick brainstorming discussion about floating and sinking, some of the responses told me that some of them already had a good understanding. I wanted to understand  what they knew of the terms floating and sinking and if they could differentiate between the two. Here are some of their thoughts:

They described floating as: Balances in water, when it’s light it can float, like a water scale, stays above the water, things can be on top and under water at the same time and one girl said, “if you go fast enough, like a boat, it won’t sink.”

When it came to sharing what they understood sinking to be, they said: things sink when it is too heavy, if you have a hole in your boat it will sink, when things go deep in the water and can’t get back up, things drifting down, some items lose their balance and then sink, if too many kgs (kilograms) are on the water scale then it will start to sink.

After a class brainstorm, students got into mixed groups and given the opportunity to sort a variety of everyday objects into whether they would float or sink. The images below demonstrate their predictions. This activity, generated a lot of discussion. By observation some justifications were made in order to persuade other group members of their choices. I heard one student saying,  “shells sink because you don’t see shells floating at the beach do you?” another was overheard saying, “ping pong balls float because they are light…”

The sorting and discussion took most of the session and we got together as a class before the end of the session to discuss what they would be curious to see when we test their predictions in water next week?

The students used their prior knowledge and experiences to help them engage in this activity. In the next session, the students will place items in water to establish whether they float or sink and they will use a template to observe and report on what happens. I will be listening for the types of language that they use to describe the objects that float and sink and listening for any reasons that they give for floating and sinking.

I would definitely do this session again as all the students were engaged and motivated to participate. Where ever possible, parallels were made to this activity and the Nature of Science.

The end of the session was topped off nicely when a young boy that had just finished his first session with me exclaimed, “I love science! Thank you for making this the BESTEST science day ever!” – It made my day!