Buoyant Bill

ACP Lesson Plan
Title:  Buoyant BillAuthor: Blake D. Jersey
Subject(s)Science and Engineering Practices (buoyancy)
Grade Level(s): Grade 8, 9Total Time: 60 minutes

Overview / Description: 

Students will develop and use models as well as collaboratively plan an investigation to make sense of buoyancy.

Learning goals/objectives:

After completing this activity, students should be able to . . .  

  • Develop a model to seek information on what makes an object buoyant.  
  • Collaboratively plan an investigation or a test to prove the phenomena of buoyancy, and then build and adjust the model to serve as proof of what makes an object buoyant. 
  • Ask questions to clarify theories after observing investigations and seek further information.

Workplace Readiness Skill:

 X    Social Skills  X Communication 
 X  Teamwork     X    Critical Thinking
   Attitude and Initiative X    Planning and Organization
   Professionalism    Media Etiquette

Content Standards

Wisconsin State Standards for Science:  

Science and Engineering Practices:  

SCI.SEP1: Ask questions that arise from examining models or theories to clarify and seek additional information and relationships. 

SCI.SEP2: Develop a complex model that allows for manipulation and testing of a proposed process or system. 

SCI.SEP3: Individually and collaboratively plan an investigation or test a design to produce data that can serve as evidence to build and revise models, support explanations for phenomena, and refine solutions to problems. Consider possible variables or effects and evaluate the investigation’s design to ensure variables are controlled. 

Educational Frameworks: 

ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors:  

B-SS 6: Use effective collaboration and cooperation skills

B-SMS 7: Demonstrate effective coping skills when faced with a problem

B-SMS 5: Demonstrate perseverance to achieve long- and short-term goals


Learning Activities:

WHO (T=Teacher Focus Lesson; WG=Whole Group\; SM=Small Group; I=Independent)

Learning Activity Task                                                WHO is responsible
for this step?
Approximate time
for task
Collect materials (rubber bands, balloons, etc)  and place them in separate bowls around the room for each group of 2-3 students. Fill large buckets half full of  tap water; distribute towels to each group to be used as floor towels to avoid slipping for drips as well as towels to dry hands on during the testing.  T15 minutes
Show students pictures of scuba divers and marine animals.  Ask students why they think these objects are able to stay in the middle of the water instead of floating to the top or sinking to the bottom.  Introduce the term "buoyancy". Share the video on buoyancy  Buoyancy Video. What is it that enables these organisms to float?  (Air tanks and weight in the scuba diver, bladder in the fish, sharks have oils.)  Similarly, what keeps these organisms from floating to the top?  (Scuba divers wear weights, fish have mass).  Share the diagram about forces acting on organisms.  Discuss how the forces must be balanced for the organism to float where it wants to.  Show the Buoyancy/Float Diagram.  Ask what would happen if the scuba diver had too much weight on?  What would happen if there were a current coming in from the rear of the diver?  What if there were a current creating a drag for the diver?  How could she counteract that?

Describe the activity:  Students will be creating a neutrally buoyant diver with their partner using the materials in the bowls.  They will be sharing the buckets and the buoyancy materials with their partners and classmates.  
WG20 minutes
 1.  Establish Lab partners.  Hand out the Buoyancy Bill Worksheet per student and 1 small action figure per 2 students.  Have students write their own hypothesis about what materials they think will make Bill neutrally buoyant.  Include a sketch if that helps.  

2.  Tell students to use the materials (as much as they need) to create a neutrally buoyant Bill.  They may use masking tape and or rubber bands to hold the materials onto the action figure.  

3.  Tell students to take turns testing their action figure in the buckets of water.  

4.  Once they have achieved neutral buoyancy, record their results and write a conclusion.  
SG, I25 min.
5.  Collect the Buoyancy Bill Worksheet as an assessmentT2 minutes


Formative Assessment: Observe groups for collaborative effort and problem solving abilities.  Observe class discussion.  

Summative Assessment: Collect Buoyancy Bill Worksheet to use as an assessment.  Buoyancy Bill worksheet.  


Partner up 2 groups making a group of 4.  Discuss what they used to create their Buoyancy Bill.  What did the materials have in common?  Have the class discuss what worked well, what didn't work and what surprised them.  What are the benefits to being neutrally buoyant for a scuba diver?  What problems did you have in working with your partner?  What did you do to rectify the problems or as a group can we give them input on how to improve upon this next time?  

Extension Activity (for intervention or enrichment): 

Intervention:  If students struggle to work cooperatively, Teacher could allow independent work or work with another group, or Teacher could intervene to assist in cooperative strategies.  

Enrichment:  Allow students to  repeat this process with weights attached to the scuba diver, or adding a thrust with their partner blowing bubbles into the water to see how this impacts the diver.  

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