When you teach students a science concept, you are usually faced with the task of dismantling the misconceptions that a variety of students in your class hold about that concept. Every student is coming from a different background, so every student is going to have preconceived notions, alternate conceptions, and intuitive theories about the workings of the world. This Anticipation Activity is meant to be a starter activity for a unit on density, as well as an activity that both you and your students can refer back to as you move towards the objectives for understanding density as an intrinsic property of matter.
For example, a lot of students think that if you cut a block of wood in half, each piece of wood will now have half the density of the original. Or, they think that just because an object is small, it will float (but honeydew melons float and grapes sink!). This activity will help your students to sort out their ideas and it will help you to have a baseline of what your students understand and what they have misconceptions about regarding density.
There are 3 stages to this activity: Preconception Detection (the students unearth their ideas about density), Metacognition Admission (the students share their ideas and discuss in small groups to tease out the different theories), and Explanation Adaptation (the students revise their explanations about density concepts during the course of the unit).
This activity activates the metacognition of your students-- their awareness of their own thought processes. Many students hold on tightly to their (mis)conceptions during science class, so it's good to make them clarify their initial ideas and force them to ask themselves if they are actually accurate. You students will likely have a mix of accurate conceptions and misconceptions about the 20 different questions provided in this activity, so this teaches them that it’s okay to be wrong when you are learning. They will also be invested in understanding the concepts because they have to coherently explain them to others, and they are anxious to see whether they were correct from the beginning!
If you are teaching a unit on density, you may also be interested in my Density of Liquids Labs
and my Density Concepts Review Boardgame
Thanks for looking!