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Archimedes’ Principle and Buoyancy Inquiry Lab Kit for AP® Physics 2 provides a model for a guided-inquiry activity.

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AP Physics 2, Big Ideas 1 & 3, Investigation 1

An object held in air feels heavier than the same object held under water. Physical laws dictate that matter cannot be created nor destroyed, so what accounts for the apparent weight loss? Through careful measurements and observations of submerged objects, students discover the law of buoyancy.

The lab begins with an introductory activity to determine the buoyant force on a vial in water. Students create and use free-body diagrams to analyze the situation. The procedure provides a model for a guided-inquiry activity, during which students design and carry out experiments to determine the density of an unknown salt solution and the volume and density of a clay piece. As an optional extension, students may be challenged to design a floating clay vessel that can carry additional mass without sinking.

Complete for 24 students working in pairs. Spring scales are required and available separately.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Engaging in argument from evidence
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
MS-PS2.A: Forces and Motion
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Crosscutting Concepts

Patterns
Cause and effect
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Systems and system models

Performance Expectations

MS-PS1-2. Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
MS-PS2-2. Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object