Starting Middle School with Science Skills

What do you do to engage students on the first day of the new school year? Give a lecture? Probably not! Go over the class rules? Boring!

For my middle schoolers, I like to kick off the school year with a fun science activity that can be used to: 1) teach basic lab skills, (2) introduce a new topic, in this case density and (3) check students’ level of prior knowledge. Ideally the activity gets them out of their chairs, moving around the classroom and working in small groups.

Students will need data collection, data presentation, and data analysis skills throughout their secondary science education. A great way to help students practice these skills is with my Calculating the Density of Different Materials activity. Students work in groups to measure the mass of different volumes of rice and sand, create a data table and a graph to show the volume and mass results, and answer questions that require them to analyse their data.

This activity will engage your students in ‘active learning’ and teach them essential skills that are useful beyond the science classroom. It’s easy to set up and requires readily available materials: graduated cylinders, balances, rice and sand.

We’ve made this activity available as a free resource in our Teachers Pay Teachers store. Visit our TpT shop to access this resource and see the new chemistry and electromagnetism products we added over the summer. You can also click here to sign up for our mailing list. You’ll receive occasional updates about our resources along with three free physics puzzles.


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