# What is Density

```What is Density?
Density is defined as mass per volume. You can think of it as how many particles
of a substance are packed into a certain amount of space. If the particles are packed
tightly together, the density would be greater than if they are loosely packed with a lot of
empty space around them.
Here are some examples:
Two people get into an elevator on the 10th floor. As the elevator goes down, it
stops at each floor and two more people get in. The density of people in the
elevator increases as it descends, because there are more people crowded
together in the same amount of space. On the 10th floor, there is a lot of space
between the people and not very much mass in the elevator. As
more and more people get in, the mass increases and the people
are crowded closer and closer together, but the volume (amount of
space inside the elevator) remains the same. Therefore, the
density is much greater when the elevator reaches the ground floor than it was at
the 10th floor.
If you put 10 Styrofoam peanuts into a shoe box, there is a lot of
space between them, and the density is low. If you cram 1,000 Styrofoam
peanuts into the shoe box, the mass will increase but the volume will remain the
same, so the density will increase.
Name: ___________________
Finding Volume of Irregular Objects by Water
Displacement
To find the density of an object, we must first find both the mass and the volume. Mass
can be determined by using a balance. The volume of square or rectangular objects is
easy to find by measuring the dimensions and multiplying length x width x height. But
how do you find the volume of irregularly-shaped objects?
We can determine the volume of irregular objects by using water displacement. The
volume of the object is equal to the volume of water it displaces. Liquid volume can be
translated into solid volume by the relationship 1 milliliter = 1 cubic centimeter, or 1 mL
= 1 cm3. Measuring the volume of water displaced by an object will tell us the volume of
the object. We can use the balance to determine its mass, and then calculate the
density by dividing the mass by the volume.
Procedure:
Materials:
Balance
100 mL graduated cylinders, one per group
Four small objects, such as rocks, marbles or fishing weights, for each group
Water
Procedure:
Students will work in groups. If there is only one balance for the class, have it at the
front of the classroom, and each group can take turns coming up and using the balance.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Determine the mass of each object to the nearest 0.1 gram
Record the mass on the data sheet
Read the volume by looking at the bottom of the meniscus.
Record the starting volume to the nearest 0.1 mL.
Place the first object into the graduated cylinder. Tilt the cylinder and slide the
object in slowly so that it does not splash.
7. Record the ending volume to the nearest 0.1 mL
8. Remove the object by pouring the water into the sink, and dry it with a paper
towel.
9. Add more water to the cylinder and repeat for the other three objects
10. Calculate the volume of each object by using the following formula:
11. Ending volume - starting volume = volume of object
12. Calculate the density of each object using the formula: Density = Mass/volume
Results:
Create a data table containing the following information for each object:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Starting volume of water, (mL)
Ending volume of water, (mL)
Difference in volume of water, (mL)
Volume of object, (cm3)
Mass of object, (g)
Density of object, (g/cm3)
Conclusion:
Answer the following questions on the data sheet:
1. What are the two units we used to express volume? (mL and cm3)
2. What unit did we use to express mass? (grams)
3. What is the formula used to calculate density? (density = mass/volume)
4. What is the method called to find the volume of irregularly-shaped objects?
(water displacement)
Name: _____________________
Practice Problems
The formula for calculating density is D = M/V Show all work including formula!
Include all units.
1. A rock has a mass of 20 grams and a volume of 4 cubic centimeters. What is its
density?
Solution: 20 g divided by 4 cm3 = 5 g/cm3
2. A piece of aluminum has a volume of 6 cm3 and a mass of 16.2 g. What is its
density?
Solution: 16.2 g divided by 6 cm3 = 2.7 g/cm3
3. A gold nugget has a density of 19.3 g/cm3 and a mass of 135.1. What is its volume?
Solution: In this problem, you know the density and the mass, but not the volume. if you
know two of the values, you can solve for the third by rearranging your formula, D= M/V,
to solve for volume. The new formula is V = M/D. 135.1 g divided by 19.3 g/cm3 = 7 cm3
4. A brick has a density of 6 g/cm3 and a volume of 150 cm3. What is its mass?
Solution: Here again you have two of the values, and you can solve for the third by
rearranging your formula to solve for mass. The new formula is M = D x V. 6 g/cm3 x
130 cm3 = 900 g.