VANDERBILT STUDENT VOLUNTEERS FOR SCIENCE Saltwater Density Fall 2010

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2 32 Observation Sheets 32 Instruction Sheets 32 Density Graphs 32 World Maps with Ocean Salinity I. Introduction A. Density Activity Materials: 16 test tubes 16 dropper bottles of saltwater (blue) 16 dropper bottles of regular water Divide students into pairs. Demonstrate the following procedure for students. 1. Fill the test tube half full with saltwater (blue) from the dropper bottle. 2. Carefully tilt the test tube and slowly add the regular water (clear) to the saltwater using the dropper bottle. It is important that the water go down the side of the test tube, otherwise the liquids might not layer. Have the students perform the experiment. Ask students: What do you notice? There are two separate layers, the saltwater is on the bottom and the regular water is on the top. Ask students: Why do you think the two liquids layer? Saltwater is more dense than regular water, so the regular water floats on top of the saltwater. B. Density Background Information Ask the students whether they know what density is. Tell them that they can think of density as how much mass there is in a given volume. In math terms, D (density) is equal to mass (m) divided by volume (v): D = m/v. Write this equation on the board, along with the definitions of the symbols (D, m, v). Sum up the difference between high density and low density with these generalizations: o High density means there is a lot of material in a given space (volume) o Low density means there is little material in a given space (volume). Have students look at the pictures on their Instruction Sheet. The circles represent material. Both pictures have the same space (area), but the high density picture has much more material (circles). High density Low density

6 Ask students if any of them have ever gone swimming in an ocean. o If some respond, ask if they remember if it was easier or harder to float in the ocean than in a swimming pool. Hopefully they will say it is easier but if they don t, mention that it is easier to float in the ocean than in freshwater. Ask students why it might be easier to float in saltwater than in freshwater. Saltwater is more dense, so objects float in saltwater that would sink in freshwater. If the salt in all of the earth s seas could be removed and spread evenly over the Earth s surface, it would form a layer more than 500 feet thick or 40 stories high! Ask students why they think the sea would contain so much salt but lakes, streams, and rivers do not have much at all. o The salt in the ocean comes from the gradual process of weathering and erosion of the Earth s crust, as well as the wearing down of mountains. o Rains and streams then transport the salts to the sea. As time has passed, the seas have actually gotten saltier. Seawater is actually really complex and contains at least 72 elements, most in very small amounts. Salinity is the total salt content of the ocean. Have students look at the map of the world that was included in their instruction sheet. The numbers in the key (at the bottom) are measures of salinity. 35 means 35 pounds of salt for 1000 pounds of water. The higher the number, the more salt that ocean contains. As students can tell from the map, the oceans vary widely in salt concentration. Ask students if they can point to the saltiest area. The saltiest water occurs in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The average salinity of water in the ocean is 35.

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