I use this activity as way to get my students thinking about their semester and reflecting on previous semester's in school. I pose the question "what determines if something sinks or floats?" Many will remember something in terms of science class, which is great! Then I will ask them to make predictions about the following item on the handout and if they think they would sink or float in a big bowl of water. They start writing down their predictions. To add competitive edge I may say something like, if you get all of your predictions correct I will give you an A on the first assignment. Note: This never happens. After students have recorded their predictions it's time to test. Start dropping the following fruits and veggies into the water and have students record whether their answer was correct or not. They will get really into this! You want all of the fruits and veggies to fit in the bowl at the same time so make sure your clear container is large enough. Also only fill it up about 3/4 of the way with water to keep from over filling. When you have finished have the students answer the reflection questions. Have conversations about what this experiment has to do with students. Have them think about ways they can turn the tide if they are sinking and then conclude the experiment by adding salt to the water and stirring with a spoon. Ideally, some of the items that have sunk will start to float.
This helps students have a new perspective about their experience as a student. Throughout the semester I constantly refer back to the experiment as I see students lose sight or start "sinking." I remind them that not all is lost and that there are things they can do that will make them float again.