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Temperature and Heat

This physics experiment consists of two physics simulations that will help in understanding density and its relation to buoyance, states of matter, and temperature.

Density, the ratio of mass to volume (mass density) or weight to volume (weight density), is an important property for many reasons, including buoyancy, which is explored in this physics simulation. After completing the activities, write and submit your report


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Simulation 1

  1. In the physics simulation, select Intro on the opening screen of the simulation and take several minutes to play around with the simulation, trying out the controls and seeing what effect they have. For example, change the mass and volume of the object and change the composition of the object. Select the two-block icon to add a second block and try changing its mass and volume too.
  2. After you feel comfortable operating the simulation controls, select Compare to open a new simulation screen. Note that you can select blocks to have the same mass, same volume, or same density. By default, blocks start with the same mass.
  3. Try to predict which of the two blocks on the left will be more likely to sink or float lower than the other. Drag both blocks into the water to test your prediction. Repeat for the two blocks on the right. If both blocks of a pair sink, adjust the mass control until at least one blocks floats. Explain any discrepancies between your predictions and the results.
  4. Now select in the upper right that blocks have the same volume. Repeat your predictions for the two-block pairs. Explain any discrepancies between your predictions and the results.
  5. When objects had the same mass, relative volume was sufficient to predict relative tendency to sink or float. When objects had the same volume, relative mass was sufficient to predict relative tendency to sink or float. Now select in the upper right that blocks have the same density and predict relative tendency to sink or float and test your prediction. Change the block density and see if that changes the results.
  6. Reflecting on your results, which single property (mass, volume, or density) of the blocks determined relative tendency to sink or float IN ALL THREE CASES (i.e., same mass, same volume, same density)? What cases were not explored in this simulation? Do you predict that the same conclusion about the single property that determines sinking or floating would hold for the unexplored case(s)?


Here is the simulation link: https://phet.colorado.edu/sims/html/density/latest/density_en.html


Simulation 2

Selecting the States option in the physics simulation, explore how density generally changes as the state of matter changes between solid, liquid, and gas. However, for which material do you find that its solid is less dense than its liquid? Discuss an application of this interesting phenomenon in the Applications section of your Experiment Report.


Simulation Link: https://phet.colorado.edu/sims/html/states-of-matter-basics/latest/states-of-matter-basics_en.html


Physics Experiment Report Format

Name: Do not expect credit if not included.

Title: The experiment name. Do not include the Module number. Again, do not expect credit if not included.


A hypothesis is a statement the experiment is designed to test or disprove. Note: experiments are designed to test or disprove, not prove, hypotheses as there are always additional tests that could be performed. Hypotheses should make specific, testable predictions and are often in IF-THEN form, e.g., “if x is changed, then y will occur.” A hypothesis answers the question, “What is the point of the experiment”?

      • NOT a hypothesis: “to prove Newton’s 2nd law” or “to see what happens if I…”
      • IS a hypothesis: “if an object moves with constant velocity, then its distance will increase linearly with time


The Overview is a paragraph describing the approach or strategy used to test the hypothesis. It should include what was tested and how it was tested.


See Experiment Instructions (use this phrase; do not include the actual procedures from the experiment).


State the most important numerical, graphical or qualitative results obtained from performing the experiment. If there is a data table, include it here.

Uncertainty & Error

Discuss sources of uncertainty (due to limited measurement precision, e.g., length measured to the nearest millimeter) and error. Sources of error include modeling errors (differences between the physical system your predictions are based on, and the real system) and experimental errors, both systematic (errors that always shift results in one direction) and random (equally likely to cause overestimates and underestimates). For computer simulations, discuss real-world sources of uncertainty or error that were not simulated.


Discuss how the experimental results support rejecting or accepting (again, not proving) the hypothesis. Discuss the relevance of uncertainties/errors to these conclusions. Propose experiment improvements and/or future directions for experimentation.


Discuss at least one real-world application of the physics concept(s) tested in the experiment and include a discussion of the experiment-specific question highlighted near the top of this document.

Experiment Report Example (DOCX)

Download Experiment Report Example (DOCX)

Be sure to discuss in the Applications section:

  • an explanation of how a heavy steel aircraft carrier can float in water (from the assigned module experiment Physics Simulation 1)
  • an application related to the material whose solid is less dense than its liquid (from Physics Simulation 2)

The single most important requirement for an experiment report is clarity. It should be written in such a way that someone who has been unable to conduct the experiment would be able to clearly understand what was done, the results, and why it mattered.



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