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SAMPLE LAB REPORT (from density lab)

Density is the amount of matter in an object per unit volume. Density ranges from very low
values for gases to very high values for solids. The standard for determining density values is water,
which has been assigned a density of 1.00 g/mL. Density may be calculated through normal means for a
regular shape, but for irregularly-shaped objects scientists use what is called the displacement method.
In this method, an object is placed in a certain amount of water in a graduated cylinder, and the volume
of water displaced by the object is equal to the volume of the object itself. The mass may then be
determined experimentally using a balance, and the density is calculated from these numbers. The
density of all metals is above 1.00 g/mL. In this experiment, we use zinc metal which has an actual
density of 7.14 g/mL. Two different types of zinc are used: cylindrical, zinc rods and irregularly-shaped
mossy zinc pieces. The displacement method is used to determine the volume of both types, even
though the rods could be determined mathematically.
The objective of this lab is to determine the density of either the zinc rods or the mossy zinc
pieces. The density of our group and the average values for the class will then be compared to the
actual value for the density of zinc.
1. Add approximately 40 mL of water to a graduated cylinder. Record the volume to the
nearest 0.1 mL.
2. Determine the mass of the cylinder and water to the nearest 0.001 g and record.
3. Add a sufficient quantity of the metal to the cylinder and water to increase the volume of
the water by at least 10 mL. Record the new volume.
4. Determine the new mass of the cylinder, water, and metal and record.
The following qualitative observations were made during the lab:
1. The zinc was silver-gray in color.
2. The zinc was lightweight.
3. The zinc was cylindrical in shape (we used the rods).
4. The water became cloudy when we put our pieces into it.
5. There were water droplets on the side of the graduated cylinder.
6. There were water droplets hanging onto the zinc.
7. Dust from the vial fell into the graduated cylinder with the zinc pieces.
1. Volume of water (before adding metal) 41.3 mL
2. Mass of cylinder and water 157.082 g
3. New volume of water and metal 53.6 mL
4. New mass of cylinder, water, and metal 248.102 g
1. Volume of metal
Volume of water and metal 53.6 mL
- Volume of water . 41.3 mL
Volume of metal 12.3 mL
2. Mass of metal
Mass of cylinder, water, and metal 248.102 g
- Mass of cylinder and water 157.082 g
Mass of metal 91.02 g
3. Density of metal
Density of metal = mass of metal 91.02 g = 7.40 g/mL
Volume of metal 12.3 mL
As this experiment was not perfect, there were several sources of error which could have
affected the results of our experiment:
1. The balance was not tared when we took our measurements (equipment error). It was
measuring low, so our masses are lower than the actual, causing our density to be lower.
2. We did not read the graduated cylinder at eye level (random error). This caused our volume
measurements to be lower, making our density higher than normal.
3. Since we dropped some of our pieces into the graduate, some water splashed out of the top
of the graduate (random). This caused our volumes to be lower than they should have
been, causing our densities to go up.
4. There was some dust in the zinc metal vial which fell into our graduated cylinder when we
put in the zinc (random). This increased the mass, causing our density to go up.
5. My partner touched the inside of the graduate, and a few water droplets adhered to her
finger (random). This made the volume less which caused our density to go up. Also, it
made the mass less which made the density decrease.
The overall effect of these errors was an increase in the density from the expected value.
Percent Error = (actual theoretical)/theoretical x 100 = (7.40-7.14)/7.14 x 100 = 3.64%
Our experiment was reasonably accurate.
Rods Pieces
Group Density (g/mL) Deviation Group Density (g/mL) Deviation
1 7.23 0.08 1 5.40 0.36
2 7.09 0.06 2 5.96 0.20
3 7.11 0.04 3 6.11 0.35
4 7.19 0.04 4 5.29 0.47
5 7.15 0 5 6.03 0.27
Avg 7.15 0.04 Avg 5.76 0.33
The average density for the rods was 7.15 0.04 g/mL while the average density for the pieces was 5.76
0.33 g/mL. The statistical values for the rods were much more accurate and precise than the values
for the pieces.
1. The density for the zinc pieces in our experiment was 7.40 g/mL.
2. Our percent error was 3.64%. Our density was outside of the precision range for the rods in
our class.
3. I learned that each substance has an accepted density that can be affected by the shape of
the substance. Air trapped in the substance can significantly alter the density.