Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Water Displacement to Determine Volume

T. Sundeen
Orange County Schools


Students use the water displacement method to determine the volume of solid objects.


The student uses the water displacement method to find the volume of common items (for example, rocks, nails, marbles).


-Beaker (one per group)
-Graduated cylinders (one per group)
-10 Pennies (per group)
-10 Nickels (per group)
-10 Dimes (per group)
-1 Rock (per group)
-1 Marble (per group)
-Volume Measurement Matrix (See Associated File)


1. Locate enough beakers and graduated cylinders for each group or student as is necessary.
2. Obtain a source of water.
3. Bring in enough pennies, nickels, dimes, small rocks, and marbles for each group.
4. Prepare enough copies of the Volume Measurement Matrix (See Associated File) for each member of the class.


1. Pour 30 coins loudly on the table saying, “Let’s find out how we can determine the volume of these coins.”

2. Review the procedure for determining the volume of liquids using beakers and graduated cylinders. (Pour water into the container. Observe the container at eye level. Record the volume using the correct unit of measurement.)

3. Demonstrate the correct method of using beakers and graduated cylinders to determine the volume of solid objects using the water displacement method.

A. Using a beaker, pour water into a graduated cylinder. Record the volume of the water on the Volume Measurement Matrix. (See Associated File)

B. Place one object into the cylinder. Begin with either pennies, nickels, or dimes. The water level will then rise. Record the new volume on the Volume Measurement Matrix.

C. Subtract the volume of the water from the volume of the water and the object. The difference will be the volume of the object.

D. Continue to add coins recording the change in volume as each coin is added. When the volumes of all coins have been found, record which coin has a greater volume.

E. Instruct students to follow the same procedure for finding the volume of the rock and marble.

4. Review: “What we have covered is how to determine the volume of a solid object using the differences in the volume of liquid after an object is placed into the liquid.”

5. Close: “Who can tell me what we have discussed today?”


Completed Volume Measurement Matrix
-Check for measurement accuracy.
-Review the reflection portion and determine how reasonable each answer seems.


1. Pair lower- and higher-functioning students in groups.
2. Higher-order questions might include the following:
-What are some practical applications for this procedure?
-How might you test the accuracy of your answers?
-How were your results different from your expectations? Explain.

Attached Files

This file contains the Volume Measurement Matrix.     File Extension: pdf

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