Everyone Loves a Mystery

Janice cup picture.ipgby:  Janice VanCleave

Identify the Physical Properties of Mystery Artifacts

The mystery artifacts used for this investigation are special and can be purchased at Educational Innovations.   The artifacts are called “Ice Melting Blocks,” but this name gives too much information. Prior to the investigation, I suggest that you introduce them as artifacts, objects that have been intentionally made or produced for a certain purpose.


To investigate mystery artifacts and determine their possible purposes as well as the real or imaginary culture that might have made them. Set the stage by placing the mystery artifacts on a table and covering them with a cloth. If possible, screen off the investigating area so that only the “student science explorers” can view the blocks.

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High School Density Kits

Ron Perkinsby: Ron Perkins

Whether teaching general science, chemistry or physics, one of the first experiments I assigned was to determine the density of a metal using a set of different sized cylinders of aluminum in a tray.

Each Student:

  • Determined both the mass and volume of a single assigned sample.
  • Recorded their data point on a large classroom Mass vs. Volume Graph.
  • Participated in a class discussion on: determining volume by different methods; drawing a straight line through the data points (including the origin); and calculating the slope of the line (rise over run)

Density Graph

Ron’s suggestions:

Classroom Density Assortment 1. The Density Sphere Experiment Kit (DEN-10) or Steel Sphere Density Kit (DEN-350) are ideal beginning sets. The Density Paradox (DEN-300) is interesting as the solid object sinks and then floats in one beaker of water, but when put into a second beaker of water, it floats at first and then sinks. The Poly Density Kit (DEN-460) is interesting because Read the rest of this entry »