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# Density Practice: Story-based Density Problem Solving

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PDF (Acrobat) Document File

2 MB|8 pages
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Give your students practice determining density from mass and volume using clues from an engaging story with practice problems about precious gems and metals, combined with a color-by-number picture that they complete by matching their answers to colors representing ranges of density. The story involves a gems and precious metals expert from a museum, given eight tests to determine her skill in identifying whether objects are made from real precious gems, metals, and woods or are fakes. If she correctly identifies the composition of each object (some real, some fake) the museum will obtain a valuable statue of a cat (shown on the cover). If students correctly calculate density, they’ll color the cat correctly. If they make errors, the cat statue will not be colored correctly.

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Each problem tells a story behind the mystery object to be identified. Each story is based on fact and uses the actual density of real gems, metals and woods as well as the density of materials actually used in fakes or counterfeits. For example, students determine whether a stone is a real diamond or a cubic zirconium. They determine if a stone is amber or cheap plastic resin. They advise the museum about the authenticity of a piece of wood claimed to be from John Harrison’s first marine chronometer (the gears of which were really made of Lignum vitae, one of the world’s most dense woods).

All of the problems are about the density of solids. There are no problems about the density of liquids. Some of the problems require students to calculate the volume of a regularly shaped solid object given the length, width, and height of the object, before they can calculate the density. Some of the problems give the mass of an irregularly shaped solid and the change in volume of water in a graduated cylinder, from which students calculate the density of the object. Some of the problems require calculating density to two decimal places, and/or rounding of decimals. All of the problems are word problems. Please look at the preview to see some of the actual problems.

This activity is not only more fun than simply solving a bunch of math problems, it also teaches students about real life application of density. They’ll find this activity much more interesting than any set of density problems you’ll find anywhere else! And it’s very low prep for you!

• Student worksheets with 8 total word problems.
• A color-by-number picture to print for students
• A key for the color-by-number picture
• Color legend cards to laminate and reuse. The cards have color swatches matched to densities. (Use of the cards is optional. A legend using words only – e.g. ‘rust’ - is also provided to eliminate the need for color printing of student materials.)

Materials you need:

Copies of the student worksheets
Crayons or Colored Pencils (I recommend crayons because of the colors used)
Color legend cards (optional)

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Total Pages
8 pages
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Teaching Duration
45 minutes
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