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The Mysterious Layers of Water

Fits into Curriculum

Grade 8, Cluster 3: Fluids
8-3-01: Use appropriate vocabulary related to their investigations of fluids (fluid,
8-3-08: Compare fluids of different densities to determine how they alter the buoyant
force on an object.
Grade 8, Cluster : Water !ystems
8--01: Use appropriate vocabulary related to their investigations of water systems (fresh
water, salt water).
8--03: Compare and contrast characteristics and properties of fresh water and salt
This discrepant event demonstrates how the density of water can be increased, and also how
substances of different densities react when they come into contact with one another.
Ideally, this event would be conducted as a studentdirected activity, but due to my limited
availability to materials and of the time constraints presented by inclass presentations, this
discrepant event will be presented as a teacherdirected activity.
1"# $re%aration
!ach table (groups of four to five students) will re"uire the following materials# $ clear,
rectangular container, %lastic food wrap to act as a barrier, $ bottle of red food colouring, $
spoon, $ large measuring cup, salt ($&' cup to $&( cup), water
&"# !afety considerations
There very few, if any, detectable safety concerns for this e)periment. *e are not using any
to)ic substances or dangerous pieces of e"uipment. The only foreseeable cause for concern that I
can imagine is whether any of my students have allergies to food colouring. +s a precaution, I
will as, this "uestion to my class. +ny students with such an allergy will be able to observe the
e)periment, but not to participate.
3"# 'e(ie) conce%ts and Terms
* )ill as+ the students, ,What is density-.
/ensity: a) The "uantity of something per unit measure, especially per unit length, area, or
volume. b) The mass per unit volume of a substance under specified conditions of pressure and
* )ill also as+ the class, ,What do )e +no) a0out the other terms and conce%ts that )e )ill
0e discussin1 today-.
Fluid: + continuous, amorphous substance whose molecules move freely past one another and
that has the tendency to assume the shape of its container- a li"uid or gas.
Fresh Water: *ater that is not salty
!alt Water: *ater impregnated with salt, as that of the ocean and of certain seas and la,es-
sometimes, also, tears.
.att !nns
Mass: + property of matter e"ual to the measure of an object/s resistance to changes in either the
speed or direction of its motion. The mass of an object is not dependent on gravity and therefore
is different from but proportional to its weight.
2olume: The amount of space occupied by a threedimensional object or region of space,
e)pressed in cubic units.
"# /emonstration - 34%erimental $lane of 5cti(ity 634%eriencin1#
37uili0rium in !tudents:
8: 9as anyone in class e(er s)um in the ocean- *f so, )hat did you notice a0out
your e4%erience-
5: ,:es, * ha(e s)um in the ocean 0efore, and * noticed that it )as easier to float
than it )as )hen s)immin1 at Grand ;each".
8: What do you thin+ )as the reason for that-
5: *<m not really sure"
To begin demonstration, a student from each group will fill one side of the container in front of
them with one measuring cup full of tap water. The barriers have already been installed in all of
the containers, so the tap water should remain on only one side of the container. 0e)t, the
students will fill the measuring cup with the same amount of water as before, but before pouring
it into the other side of the container they need to dissolve the salt in the li"uid. To do this, they
will stir the water for a specified period of time. +t this point, I will as, the students to observe
the water.
8: What do you notice a0out this cu% of )ater-
5: The )ater a%%ears to 0e cloudy"
8: 9as the (olume of )ater chan1ed after the salt )as dissol(ed into it-
5: =o, the )ater le(el has not chan1ed, so the (olume must 0e the same"
Instruct the students to carefully add the red food colouring to the salt water. 1e sure that they
add enough of the colouring for the water to turn a relatively dar, shade of red. 0ow the students
will be instructed to pour the red salt water into the empty half of the container. Ideally, the
container will have the same amount of water on either side of the barrier. 2ne side will be full
of clear tap water, while the other will be filled with red salt water.
+t this stage of the e)periment, I will as, the students to ma,e predictions about what will
happen if the barrier is removed.
8: What )ill ha%%en if )e )ere to remo(e the 0arrier 0et)een the t)o ty%es
of )ater-
5: $resuma0ly, a ran1e of ans)ers )ill 0e %ro(ided" !ome students mi1ht %redict
the t)o ty%es of )ater )ill mi4 to1ether, resultin1 in a %in+ salt>fresh )ater mi4"
?thers may %redict 6correctly# that the fresh )ater 6clear# and salt )ater 6red# )ill
not mi4, althou1h they may not 0e a0le to e4%lain the reasons )hy this mi1ht
The students will then be instructed to carefully remove the barrier from the container. I will be
sure to instruct the class to ma,e observations of their e)periences.
.att !nns
2nce this step has been completed, the students will observe that the red salt water does not mi)
together with the clear fresh water. Instead, the red salt water has sun, to the bottom of the
container, while the clear fresh water floats above. They will be able to see that the water has
become distinctly layered.
@"# $sycholo1ical $lane of 5cti(ity 6Anderstandin1#
+t this stage of the lesson, I as, the students to e)plore their observations of the e)periment, to
try to ma,e sense of what has occurred.
It is li,ely that a large number of students predicted that the two types of water would mi)
together. 3ise"uilibrium will have occurred for this group of students. They will be curious as to
how and why the actual outcome differed from their prediction.
1efore moving on any further, I will as, some "uestions to the class#
8: The t)o ty%es of )ater did not mi4 to1ether, as many of us %redicted" What
)as the difference 0et)een the t)o ty%es of )ater-
5: The )ater )ith red food colourin1 had salt dissol(ed into it"
8: /id the (olume of )ater chan1e after you added the salt to it-
5: =o, the actual (olume of )ater remained the same"
8: The salt that )e added to the )ater had mass" We can ri1htfully assume that
the mass of the salt )ater )as 1reater than that of the fresh )ater" ;ut as )e
o0ser(ed 0efore, the (olume did not chan1e" What does this mean-
5: The density of the )ater increased once the salt )as dissol(ed into it"
B"# 34%lanation on the 0oard C Theoretical $lane of 5cti(ity 6Consolidatin1#
*nitial )or+in1 to)ards e7uili0rium:
+t this stage of the lesson, I will e)plain to the class that introducing the salt to the water
increased the mass of the water without changing its volume. +s a result of our e)perience, we
can now ma,e a more tangible connection to the concept#
/ensity D Mass > 2olume
The density of the red salt water was greater than that of the clear fresh water. *hen the barrier
that divided the two sides of water was removed, the more dense substance (in this case, the salt
water with red food colouring) san, to the bottom of the container, while the less dense substance
(the fresh water) rose to the top.
E"# 34tension 6'einforcin1 )hat )as learned#
4aving had this valuable e)perience, the students may suggest aspects (variables) of the
e)periment that they could change (manipulate), if the e)periment were conducted again. 5or
e)ample, they might suggest changing the amount of salt added to the water, or adding a different
food colouring to both types of water.
.att !nns
;loom<s Ta4onomy Fi(e 8uestions for /iscussion
6'einforcement of $rinci%les#
1"# Fno)led1e:
7# 4ow do we calculate density8
+# 3ensity 9 .ass & :olume
&"# Com%rehension:
7# 4ow is it that adding salt to water increased its density8
+# ;alt dissolves in water. *hen the salt dissolved, it changed the density of the water in the
container. !arlier during this lesson, somebody shared with us their e)perience about swimming
in the ocean. +s they reported, it was easier to float in the ocean (than in fresh water) because it
is salt water, which has a greater density.
3"# 5%%lication:
7# + boiled egg will not float in a jar full of tap water. If we were to fill an identical jar with an
e"ual amount of salt water, will the egg sin, or float (;tudents will be encouraged to try this
e)periment on their own)8
+# The egg will float because the salt water has a greater density than tap water. The egg will
sin, in the tap water because it has less density.
"# 5nalysis:
7# 3o you thin, that what you observed applies in many other settings outside of the classroom8
+# .ost li,ely. I<m sure there are several occurrences in the ocean that involve what I have
learned today (li,e when fresh water runs out into the ocean).
@"# 3(aluation:
7# 3id your group observe anything that was different from the other groups in class8 If the
water did not become layered in your e)periment, how would you e)plain it8
+# %erhaps not enough salt or food colouring was used.
.att !nns
1uschmann, 0i,i. ($===). Water Density. >etrieved ;eptember (?, (@@?, from
.anitoba !ducation, Training and Bouth. ((@@@). Grades 5 to 8 Science: Manitoba
Curriculum Framework of Outcomes. *innipeg# .anitoba !ducation and Training
Cataloguing in %ublication 3ata.
.ar,le, ;andra. ($==@). Creative Science Classrooms. 0ew Bor,# ;cholastic
%rofessional 1oo,s.
.att !nns

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