MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Measuring Liquid Volume

Measuring Liquid Volume

Laurie Pass, Worthington Middle School,Worthington, MN
This activity is adapted from Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Physical Science book. It is used to introduce students how to measure accurately with specific amounts given.
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As a class, we will have covered vocabulary dealing with liquid measurement and the tools used in measuring liquids. In this lab, the students will use a graduated cylinder to measure and transfer amounts of colored liquids. The intended outcome would be to take primary colored liquids, measure them and combine them to create a "rainbow" colored set of water in the test tubes. The students will record initial colors, combine them, record the combined liquid color and present them on a data chart.

Learning Goals

The students will learn to read the meniscus on a graduated cylinder correctly. The students will measure and combine liquids to receive the expected results. The students will expand the lab experience by using their own predictions to make lighter or darker liquids. The students will complete a lab measuring accurately and precisely to complete the "rainbow" effect.
-Graduated cylinders
-Test tubes
-Systeme International Units(SI)

-Graduated cylinders
-Test tubes

Context for Use

The activity would be appropriate for middle school students with a basic knowledge of measurement and the tools used. I have used a similar activity in classes as large as 26 students. The activity will take approximately 45 minutes if preparation of the liquids and gathering of supplies is done ahead of time.

- Beakers filled with primary colored liquids
- Funnel
- Graduated cylinder
- Marker
- Masking tape
- 6 test tubes
- Test tube rack.

Subject: Chemistry
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Grade Level: Middle (6-8)

Description and Teaching Materials

The focus question will be: What is the effect of combining different amounts of certain colors? The lesson will be introduced by the teacher modeling how to measure from the beaker to the graduated cylinder, to the test tubes. The teacher will explain the expected results. The students will gather the materials needed: 3 beakers with liquids of the primary colors, funnel, graduated cylinder, marker, masking tape, 6 test-tubes, and test-tube rack. The students should use the masking tape and markers to label the test-tubes in some way to differentiate them from each other (ex. A,B,C...). They should complete the activity by combining and recording the amounts of liquid to make the colors of the rainbow. Students should record and organize the data and present it to the class. Closure strategies would be to question the students about their measuring methods and amounts used to obtain the correct colors.

Teaching Notes and Tips

I would suggest that the primary liquids be measured and poured into the beakers ahead of to save class time. This activity is adapted from Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Physical Science book. It is used to introduce students how to measure accurately with specific amounts given. To make this an "inquiry" lesson, I have taken out the chart and specific colored liquid amounts, so the students are able to use their own observations and "inquiries" to conduct the experiment. When using the original activity, it is difficult to read and understand by students who are English as a second language speaking. It can be rewritten and used if adapted to make it easier to understand and read.


I will check for the organized data and the colored liquids they have combined. I will look over the science notebook to see if the information is recorded. I will have the students share the information with the class as a presentation.


Grade 6 Strand I. History and Nature of Science; Sub-Strand B. Scientific Inquiry; Standard: The Student will understand that scientific inquiry is used in systematic ways to investigate the natural world; Benchmark: 3. The student will use appropriate tools and Systeme International (SI) units for measuring length, time, mass, volume, and temperature with suitable precision and accuracy.

References and Resources