Science Lesson Plans
Posted Jan 15, 2014 by Elmers
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    Dancing Raisins

    Engage students in the scientific inquiry process with a fun discrepant event and an extension activity that takes this old favorite to a new level. A perfect activity to kick off your science fair instruction!
    • 2 - 5
    • 1 hr
    • Science

    How do I get my class and myself ready? This lesson plan should give you everything you need to be prepared for the material.

    Lesson Plan Objective(s)

    Students will observe a discrepant event and engage in the inquiry process to discover more.

    Students will hypothesize as to why the discrepant event happened.

    Students will plan and carry out their own experiment to test that hypothesis.

    Students will understand the concepts of density and buoyancy and explore those concepts within the context of a scientific investigation.

    Background Details

    This activity is based upon the discrepant event resulting when a raisin is dropped into a glass of carbonated beverage. Since the raisin is slightly denser than the liquid, it will drop to the bottom of the glass. However, when the carbon dioxide bubbles attach themselves to the raisin, they create buoyancy which cause the raisins to rise to the top of the liquid. When the raisin reaches the surface, the bubbles break causing the raisin to lose buoyancy and sink back to the bottom of the glass where the process starts again.

    Materials Needed

    • Carbonated water or clear soda
    • water
    • raisins
    • Alka Seltzer or baking soda
    • clear plastic cups
    • small lightweight objects

    Required Knowledge/Vocabulary

    buoyancy, sink, float, density


    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

    Next Generation Science Standards Practice 3: Students should have opportunities to plan and carry out several different kinds of investigations to expose an issue or question they would be unlikely to discover and explore on their own.

    How do I present the material? Here is the recommended approach, content and timing for presenting the materials.

    Lesson Instructions

    Prepare to introduce the lesson with one tall clear glass of water and one tall clear glass of carbonated water or clear soda. Place both glasses on a table in front of the students. Ask them to put their observation skills to work and tell you what they see?

    Drop a few raisins into the glass of water. Ask them to describe what happened. Then, drop a few raisins into the second glass. Ask them to describe what happened. The students should observe the difference between the raisins sitting in the bottom of the glass of water and the raisins that are rising and falling in the glass of carbonated water.

    Ask them what they think might cause the difference in the raisins in the two glasses.

    Extend the demonstration to scientific inquiry with more probing questions such as:

    Can you think of a way to make the raisins dance faster?

    Can you think of a way to make the raisins dance slower?

    Can you think of a way to test your theory?

    What do you think would happen if we flattened the raisins?

    What if we added ice to the liquid? Would that make a difference?

    Would paper clips react the same way in the different liquids as the raisins?

    This questioning process is essential as it provides a framework for them to plan and conduct their own investigation to come to a scientific conclusion.

    Discussion Questions

    1. What do you think is in the glasses?
    2. Why do you think that?
    3. What happened when the raisins are dropped into the glass?
    4. Why do you think that happened?
    5. What happened when the raisins are dropped into the second glass?
    6. Why do you think that happened?

    Activities (group or individual)

    Provide each student with the Dancing Raisins handout (download PDF). Explain that before they begin their own investigation, scientists must first identify what they observed and their theories as to why. Then, they will make a prediction about why the raisins dance in one liquid but not the other. Encourage them to be as specific as possible in their hypothesis. Explain that they will conduct three trials or experiments to test their hypothesis. Allow the students to work in small groups and provide each with the necessary materials to conduct their investigation.

    Did my students achieve the lesson objective?

    Discussion Questions

    Before students begin their trials, they should have a solid understanding of how each experiment might provide evidence to support their hypothesis.

    Some good probing questions are:

    1. What variables are you using to test your hypothesis?
    2. How will you know that it proves or disproves your hypothesis?
    3. Why is it important to only change one thing (variable) in each trial?

    Activities (group or individual)

    Allow the students to work together to conduct their investigation and form a conclusion about their hypothesis.

    Provide time for students to present and defend their results. Since each group is only testing three variables, the experiments will be different.

    Helpful Tips and Tricks

    Teachers can facilitate the investigation process and shift the focus from theory to inquiry by asking more direct questions. For example, in the brainstorming portion of this activity, you might ask, "can you think of a way to test..." When the students move to the investigation, shift your questions to "can you find a way to ..." and "how will you know that.... ?"

    Additionally, students should begin to discover that measurement has to be part of the process. They cannot simply change variables and not have a way to measure the results.

    Student Feedback

    Students love this activity and it fosters their natural curiosity. It also helps them understand the nature of scientific inquiry and investigation.

    Lesson Plan Downloads


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