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Community Forums - LifeSciTRC Scholars and Fellows - Misconceptions in Science

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One misconception students in physical science often have is that students assume objects that float in water are lighter then water. They don't understand the concept of density. I don't know if digital media really helps foster this misconception, at least that I can see. One of the ways I have students confront this misconcpetion is by giving them a variety of liquids such as vegetable oil, dawn dish soap, corn syrup, honey. I ask them to make some predictions about which liquids are "lighter" and "heavier" than water. I ask them if varying the amount of the liquids will effect the experiment, then I let them pour the various liquids together and keep track of the mass and end results. It helps them understand that density is determined by mass/volume.

This thread was posted on May 29, 2015 at 10:13 AM ET by Laura Mibeck.
  |   12 Replies   |   Last on 6/15/2020 at 2:06 PM ET
Re: Misconceptions in Science

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Re: Misconceptions in Science

I like the hands-on approach on taching the concept of density. Perhaps you can use digital media for students to research fields/careers in which density is needed. Students will not only learn how density works (hands-on), but also the practical use density has and why the information is valuable.

This was posted on May 31, 2015 at 9:57 AM ET by Tisha Grudzien.
Re: Misconceptions in Science

The exploration in the lab is critical.  But the next day pull up a video of an aircraft carrier plowing through heavy seas, or  a whale breaching, and ask students to apply what they know about density to explain what they are seeing.  :)  

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