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This simulation provides a highly visual, intuitive way for students to explore how density is related to an object's mass and volume. Using a virtual water tank, users drop various objects to see what floats and what sinks. Use the mouse to submerge the object and see how much fluid it displaces. A scale is provided to measure the mass of the objects, with a density table available for view. Students can easily see why the density formula works, especially when they identify the "mystery" objects.

This item is part of a larger collection of simulations developed by the Physics Education Technology project (PhET).
Editor's Note: Scroll down on the page for exemplary lesson plans for grades 6-12, developed by the PhET project specifically to accompany the "Density" simulation.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Fluid Mechanics
- Statics of Fluids
= Density and Buoyancy
- Middle School
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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© 2010 University of Colorado at Boulder
Additional information is available.
Archimedes Principle, buoyancy, density simulation, mass, middle school simulation, volume
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created February 16, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 18, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 30, 2010
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 6-8: 4D/M10. A substance has characteristic properties such as density, a boiling point, and solubility, all of which are independent of the amount of the substance and can be used to identify it.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
  • 6-8: 11B/M5. The usefulness of a model depends on how closely its behavior matches key aspects of what is being modeled. The only way to determine the usefulness of a model is to compare its behavior to the behavior of the real-world object, event, or process being modeled.

12. Habits of Mind

12B. Computation and Estimation
  • 6-8: 12B/M3. Calculate the circumferences and areas of rectangles, triangles, and circles, and the volumes of rectangular solids.
  • 6-8: 12B/M7b. Convert quantities expressed in one unit of measurement into another unit of measurement when necessary to solve a real-world problem.
  • 9-12: 12B/H2. Find answers to real-world problems by substituting numerical values in simple algebraic formulas and check the answer by reviewing the steps of the calculation and by judging whether the answer is reasonable.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(PhET, Boulder, 2010), WWW Document, (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/density).
PhET Simulation: Density (PhET, Boulder, 2010), <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/density>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Density. (2010, December 30). Retrieved June 24, 2024, from PhET: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/density
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: Density. Boulder: PhET, December 30, 2010. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/density (accessed 24 June 2024).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Density. Boulder: PhET, 2010. 30 Dec. 2010. 24 June 2024 <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/density>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Density}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {24 June 2024}, Month = {December 30, 2010}, Year = {2010} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: Density %D December 30, 2010 %I PhET %C Boulder %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/density %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D December 30, 2010 %T PhET Simulation: Density %I PhET %V 2024 %N 24 June 2024 %8 December 30, 2010 %9 application/java %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/density

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