Are you ready for a ‘Does It Float?” science experiment? We have done experiments with Floating Eggs, and Sinking Oranges, now we are going to experiment with pop cans (or soda cans depending on what part of the world you live in)!
Grab your supplies and try this experiment with us. Just be sure all your cans are the same shape, size and volume (12 FL OZ or 355 mL), and that you have a variety of different types of pop including regular and diet. The experiment is a simple yet effective density experiment that will take only about 5 minutes to perform.
Let’s find out which ones will float in water and which ones will sink!
- Large Bucket or Container
- Unopened Pop Cans (use a variety of pop, some regular and some diet)
Experiments Setup – Start with some observations about the cans. Are they the same size? What about the same shape? List the ways the cans are the same. Then list the ways the cans are different. Now ask a few more questions. Do you think the cans will sink or float when placed in water? Do you think they will all behave the same way (meaning will they all float, or will they all sink)? Write down your hypothesis (prediction) and then follow the steps below.
Step 1 – Begin by filling a large container with water. The water should be deep enough so you can easily tell which cans are floating and sinking.
Step 2 – Slowly place each can into the water one at a time. Make sure to tip the can on it’s side when you are placing it in the water so no air is trapped at the bottom of the can. If there is a bubble of air trapped at the bottom of the can, the results of the experiment will be impacted.
Step 3 – Observe the cans as you place them in the water. Are they all behaving the same way? Which cans are floating? Which cans are sinking?
Step 4 – After all the cans are in the water, examine the results and try to figure out why some of the cans float to the top and others sink to the bottom. Find out the answer in the how does this experiment work section below.
Why do some cans of pop sink while some float? All of the cans have the exact same shape, size and volume. Density is the key to this experiment! Density is a measure of the mass per unit volume of a substance. Water has a density of 1 g/mL (g/cm3). Objects will float in water if their density is less than 1 g/mL. Objects will sink in water if their density is greater than 1 g/mL. The cans of diet pop are less dense than water, so they float. The cans of regular pop are more dense than water so they sink.
Now you may be wondering why the density of the cans of pop is different. The answer lies in the type of sweetener used in each pop. Sugar is used to sweeten regular pop, a lot of sugar. This large quantity of sugar causes the can to become more dense than water. Artificial sweeteners are used in diet pop. However, a much smaller amount of artificial sweetener is used which causes the can to be less dense than water.
There you have it, even though the cans were the exact same shape, size and volume (335mL) the densities were different due to the sugar!
I hope you enjoyed the experiment. Here are some printable instructions: