Matter is made up of atoms about 0.1 nm in size. Atoms and molecules are arranged differently in solids, liquid and gases. Density is calculated from mass divided by volume.

Part of

There are different ways to investigate density. In this practical activity, it is important to:

- use appropriate apparatus and methods to measure volume and mass
- make accurate measurements of the mass and the volume of different objects, and use these measurements to calculate densities

To measure the density of various materials.

- place the cuboid on the top pan balance and record its mass in grams
- use a ruler to measure the length (l), width (w) and height (h) of a cuboid
- calculate the volume of the cuboid using: (where measurements are in cm and the volume is in cm
^{3}) - use the measurements from steps 1 and 3 to calculate the density of the substance

- place the object on the top pan balance and record its mass in grams
- fill the displacement can until the water is level with the bottom of the pipe
- place a measuring cylinder under the pipe, ready to collect the displaced water
- carefully drop the object into the can and wait until no more water runs into the cylinder
- measure the volume of the displaced water
- use the measurements from steps 1 and 5 to calculate the density of the object

- place an empty measuring cylinder on the top pan balance and measure its mass in grams
- pour 50 cm
^{3}of liquid into the measuring cylinder and measure its new mass - calculate: mass of liquid = (mass at step 2) - (mass at step 1)
- use the volume (50 cm
^{3}) and the answer to step 3 to calculate the density of the liquid

Record the results in a suitable table. The one below gives some example measurements.

Object | Mass (g) | Volume (cm3) | Density (g/cm3) | Density (kg/m3) |
---|---|---|---|---|

Steel cuboid | 468 | 60 | ||

Stone | 356 | 68 | ||

Water | 50 | 50 |

Calculate the densities of the different substances using:

density = mass ÷ volume

- density of steel = 468/60 = 7.8 g/cm
^{3} - density of stone = 357/68 = 5.25 g/cm
^{3} - density of water = 50/50 = 1.0 g/cm
^{3}

Convert the densities to kg/m^{3}:

- density of steel = 7.8 × 1,000 = 7,800 kg/m
^{3} - density of stone = 5.25 × 1,000 = 5,250 kg/m
^{3} - density of water = 1.0 × 1,000 = 1,000 kg/m
^{3}

Describe two sources of error in the experiment. For each one, suggest an improvement.

The top pan balance is only precise to ±1 g. A balance that reads to 1 decimal place (±0.1 g) or to 2 decimal places (±0.01 g) would be more precise.

The displacement can may not have been set up correctly each time, so another added drop of water would cause some to dribble out of the spout before use. Check that no more water comes out before placing the measuring cylinder under the spout.

Hazard | Consequence | Control measures |
---|---|---|

Water spilled from displacement can | Slip and fall | Work next to a sink and have paper towels ready to mop up any spills |