These two units of work have been designed to promote students' understanding of density. The first unit was created for students in the upper Middle Years of Schooling (MYS) (Years 7-10) with expectation that it could be modified and adapted to suit learners. A modified version specifically for students in Years 4, 5, and 6 was developed for students in the earlier phase of the MYS.
Density is a topic studied in the Middle Years Science curriculum, but conceptual understanding of density requires understanding of many topics associated with the Middle Years Mathematics curriculum. Such mathematics topics include mass and volume as well as number sense and mental computation. Other knowledge and skills located in both the Middle Years Science and Mathematics curriculum include data gathering, data analysis, interpretation of data, graphing, measuring, using measuring instruments, problem solving, problem posing, conducting experiments and controlling variables.
An investigative approach
These units takes an investigative approach to the topic of density where learning experiences are designed for active student participation to foster rich conceptual understanding. An investigative approach means that students are provided with opportunities to learn and apply key mathematical and scientific skills in meaningful contexts, rather than being provided with de-contextualised practice exercises that they then apply to realistic situations. An investigative approach is a guided discovery approach where formulae derive from experience and gentle teacher scaffolding. An investigative approach is the principle philosophy of both the Queensland 1-10 Mathematics and Science syllabuses.
Mathematics and Science Integration
These units are designed as units that can be implemented equally with both Middle Years mathematics and science classes. That is, the units are designed so that both mathematics and science core learning outcomes for the middle years are being targeted simultaneously. The activities within the units can be identified specifically as being either science or maths activities, but they have been interwoven throughout the unit to build key knowledge, skills and concepts required for an understanding of density.
Each unit is made up of a series of episodes, each designed to be of approximately 35 minutes duration. Each unit includes a pretest for diagnostic purposes and a posttest for comparative purposes. An investigative assessment task concludes this unit. An outline of the focus of each teaching episode is provided in the table below.
Density Unit Overview
1 Diagnostic pretest
Introductory activity – does it sink or float?
2 Explore and consolidate mass
3 Exploring volume by displacement
4 Exploring density – density jars
5 Consolidation of density formula
7 Investigative assessment task