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Volume of Liquids, Gases, and Granular Solids

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: Archaeological Documentation

Grade Level: 5-8

Common Core Standards:
RS9-10. 3. Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.

M 7.G.6. Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms.

M 8.G.9. Know the formulas for the volumes of cones, cylinders, and spheres and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems.

Content Areas: Math, Science

Recommended Length/Duration: 45-60 minute period

Learning Goals: Students will learn to measure and calculate the volumes of various liquids, gases, and granular solids.


  1. Before class, prepare several samples of common liquid and granular materials (e.g. colored water, liquid soap, cooking oil, flour, sand, oatmeal)
  2. Begin by discussing the definition of volume.  Include that all forms of matter take up three dimensional space.  The amount of space they take up is volume. 
  3. Liquids, gases and granular materials are fluid and conform to the shape of their containers or outside forces like gravity.  The most common way to measure the volume of a liquid or gas is to measure the size of the container it fills.
  4. Share some common measuring tools (beaker, graduated cylinder, measuring cup, measuring spoons.  Demonstrate how each is used to measure volume.
  5. Divide students into small work groups and have them use a graduated cylinder or measuring cup to measure the volume of the various liquids and granular solids you have provided.  Have them record their measurements on their worksheets.
  6. Have students think about other liquids or granular materials that are measured in volume containers.
  7. Have them answer the question about how to measure the amount of air in the room.
  8. Once students have measured each of the samples, compare results.
  9. Point out that gases are more difficult to measure.  Ask students to name some common gases they are familiar with.  Note that most gases are invisible and expand to fill their containers.  Ask how we can measure the volume of gas, like the air in the room.  This should result in a description of the ways to find the volume of a container.  The volume of a gas therefore equals the volume of the container they fill.  Ask how you could measure the amount of air in your classroom, gym, Earth.

Assessments: Check worksheets for accuracy.

Materials/Resources: Volume of Liquids Gases and Granular Solids Worksheets (pdf), Graduated Cylinders or Measuring Cups, Collection of various liquids and granular samples

Special Considerations: Weaker students could be partnered with stronger students.

Scientific measurements are generally easier to take and calculate in metric than in English units.  Additional work may be needed if students are not familiar with metric measurements, or if the teacher chooses to use English units.

Additional measurements and calculations of volume can be taken at home. 

Students may want to calculate the volume of air in various spaces (e.g. bedroom, trunk, sports dome)