Teacher Notes

Density of Solids

Student Laboratory Kit

Materials Included In Kit

Aluminum bar
Aluminum cube (cube 2)
Plastic rulers, metric, 2
Steel cube (cube 1)

Additional Materials Required

(for each lab group)
Balance, accurate to 0.1 g


All materials may be saved for future use.

Teacher Tips

  • Enough materials are provided in this kit for one group of students. This laboratory activity can reasonably be completed in one 50-minute class period.
  • Additional Density of Solids Kits, AP4615, may be purchased for each individual lab group.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Using mathematics and computational thinking
Analyzing and interpreting data

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Crosscutting Concepts

Scale, proportion, and quantity
Structure and function

Performance Expectations

MS-PS1-4: Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
MS-PS1-1: Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
HS-PS1-1: Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
HS-PS1-3: Plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles.
HS-PS2-6: Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.

Sample Data


Answers to Questions

  1. How do the densities of cube 1, cube 2 and the bar compare?

    The densities of cube 2 and the bar are equal.

  2. From the data collected, are any of the objects composed of the same material? How do you know this?

    From the calculated density values, cube 2 and the bar have the same density. Therefore, cube 2 and the Bar are most likely composed of the same substance.

  3. Use the following density table to identify what material each item is composed of.
  4. Once each item has been identified, use the following equations to determine the accuracy of your calculated density measurement. Use the following equation.
  5. What are some possible errors in your density calculations?

    Measurement with the ruler, incorrect mass measurement, and imperfect blocks (not perfectly square) are all possible sources of error.

Student Pages

Density of Solids


In this activity, two cubes and a bar that have the same physical appearance will be used to introduce the concepts of volume, mass, and density.


  • Measurement
  • Mass
  • Density
  • Volume
  • Percent error


In this activity, the mass, volume and density of two cubes and a bar will be determined and compared by measurement. The volume of any regular solid can be calculated using Equation 1. The length, width and height must be determined using a metric ruler.

Once the solid object’s mass and volume are known, the density may be found using the following equation.
Density, which is defined as an object’s mass divided by its volume, is a characteristic property of a material. Solids that have the same physical appearance or objects of different shapes and sizes may be identified by their densities. The density of a solid is commonly expressed as g/cm3.


Balance, accurate to 0.1 g
Cube 1
Cube 2
Plastic ruler, metric

Prelab Questions

  1. Obtain cube 1, cube 2 and the bar.
  2. Pick up cube 1 and cube 2 and note the similarities and differences of each cube. Is one cube heavier than the other one?
  3. Now pick up the bar and compare it to cube 1 and cube 2. Is the bar composed of the same material as either of the cubes? How can it be determined if the bar is made of the same material as one of the cubes?

Safety Precautions

Although this activity is considered nonhazardous, always follow proper laboratory safety guidelines.


  1. Measure the length, width and height of the heavier cube, cube 1, in centimeters. Record the values in the data table.
  2. Using Equation 1, determine the volume of cube 1. Record the volume for cube 1 in the data table.
  3. Find the mass of cube 1 using a balance. Record the mass to the nearest 0.1 g in the data table.
  4. Determine the density of cube 1 by using the calculated volume of cube 1 from step 2 and the mass of Cube 1 from step 3 (Equation 2 in the Background). Record the density in the data table.
  5. Repeat steps 1–4 for cube 2 and also the Bar. Record all information in the appropriate spaces in the data table.
  6. Return all materials to the instructor.

Student Worksheet PDF


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