Standard #: SC.8.P.8.4


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Classify and compare substances on the basis of characteristic physical properties that can be demonstrated or measured; for example, density, thermal or electrical conductivity, solubility, magnetic properties, melting and boiling points, and know that these properties are independent of the amount of the sample.


General Information

Subject Area: Science
Grade: 8
Body of Knowledge: Physical Science
Idea: Level 2: Basic Application of Skills & Concepts
Big Idea: Properties of Matter - A. All objects and substances in the world are made of matter. Matter has two fundamental properties: matter takes up space and matter has mass which gives it inertia.

B. Objects and substances can be classified by their physical and chemical properties. Mass is the amount of matter (or "stuff") in an object. Weight, on the other hand, is the measure of force of attraction (gravitational force) between an object and Earth.

The concepts of mass and weight are complicated and potentially confusing to elementary students. Hence, the more familiar term of "weight" is recommended for use to stand for both mass and weight in grades K-5. By grades 6-8, students are expected to understand the distinction between mass and weight, and use them appropriately.

Clarification for grades K-2: The use of the more familiar term ‘weight’ instead of the term “mass” is recommended for grades K-2.

Clarification for grades 3-5: In grade 3, introduce the term mass as compared to the term weight. In grade 4, investigate the concept of weight versus mass of objects. In grade 5, discuss why mass (not weight) is used to compare properties of solids, liquids and gases.

Date Adopted or Revised: 02/08
Date of Last Rating: 05/08
Status: State Board Approved
Assessed: Yes

Test Item Specifications

    Item Type(s): This benchmark may be assessed using: MC item(s)
    Also Assesses
    SC.8.P.8.3
    Explore and describe the densities of various materials through measurement of their masses and volumes.

    Clarification :
    Students will classify and/or compare substances on the basis of their physical properties and/or explain that these properties are independent of the amount of the sample.

    Students will describe density and/or calculate and compare the densities of various materials using the materials’ masses and volumes.
    Content Limits :
    Items may require use of the density formula to calculate density, mass, or volume when comparing substances.

    Items that assess conductivity, solubility, or magnetic properties will be at a conceptual level only. Items will not require calculations for these topics.

    Items addressing solubility may include the terms solvent, solute, and saturation. Items may assess the concept of saturation.

    Items will not require memorization of the specific melting points and/or boiling points of substances.
    Stimulus Attributes :
    Temperature will only be shown in degrees Celsius (°C).

    Scenarios requiring calculation of density must include the density equation.
    Response Attributes :
    None specified
    Prior Knowledge :
    Items may require the student to apply science knowledge described in the NGSSS from lower grades. This benchmark requires prerequisite knowledge from SC.3.P.8.1, SC.3.P.8.2, SC.3.P.8.3, SC.3.P.9.1, SC.4.P.8.1, SC.P.4.8.2, SC.4.P.8.4, SC.5.P.8.1, SC.5.P.11.1, and SC.5.P.11.2.


Sample Test Items (1)

Test Item # Question Difficulty Type
Sample Item 1 Matthew has six cubes of different materials. Each cube has a mass of 10 grams (g). Matthew sorts the cubes into two groups using one physical property.

which physical property did matthew most likely use to sort the cubes into two groups?
N/A MC: Multiple Choice


Related Courses

Course Number1111 Course Title222
2002100: M/J Comprehensive Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2002110: M/J Comprehensive Science 3, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2003010: M/J Physical Science (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2003020: M/J Physical Science, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7820017: Access M/J Comprehensive Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
2002055: M/J Comprehensive Science 1 Accelerated Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7920030: Fundamental Integrated Science 1 (Specifically in versions: 2013 - 2015, 2015 - 2017 (course terminated))


Related Access Points

Access Point Number Access Point Title
SC.8.P.8.In.4 Observe and compare substances based on their physical properties, such as thermal and electrical conductivity, solubility, or magnetic properties.
SC.8.P.8.Su.4 Observe and compare substances by physical properties, such as weight, size, boiling and melting points, and magnetic properties.
SC.8.P.8.Pa.3 Recognize substances by physical properties, such as weight (heavy and light), size (big and small), and temperature (hot and cold).


Related Resources

Educational Software / Tool

Name Description
Density: Sea Water Mixing & Sinking This is an excellent resource for teachers and students that provides student sheets, data graphs, vocabulary, and teacher notes as well as Big Ideas, Essential Questions, Data Tables, Formative Assessment questions - extremely teacher friendly who need assistance on this Big Idea and Concept. (The Preconceptions were helpful to my students.)

Lesson Plans

Name Description
What Floats Your Boat

Students will solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, density, volume and surface area of 2 – and 3-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms. Students will engineer solutions to the given problem using gained scientific content knowledge as application of mathematical skills

Drink Mix Mix-Up

In this inquiry activity, students will identify unknown powdered drink mixes. They will use their knowledge of various physical properties to design tests for the unknown drink mixes and then compare them to the known. Students will use their own generated data as evidence to form a conclusion and support their findings. 

Scout Robot: Mass, Density, Volume, Weight

In this MEA, students must select which material to use in the development of an advanced military scout robot. Students must analyze data about each material’s individual properties that would make it a valid choice for military or police service. Students must complete calculations to determine material density as well as the overall mass and weight of the robot. This lesson focuses on the characteristic properties of density, unit conversion, and differentiating between mass and weight.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Pennies For Thought

Through this two day lesson, students will learn the concepts of weight, mass, volume, and density, and be able to accurately measure them and understand the relationship between them. They will also be able to calculate a substance's density by taking two points on a graph and applying the rise/run equation.

Day one will include a pre-test to access prior knowledge on the concepts of weight, mass, volume and density. Direct instruction of their definitions along with practice measuring these four properties will be provided in the form of interactive centers.

The hook for day two will be a class demonstration. (You will need a balance, and 50 pennies divided into two separate piles: 25 pennies from the year 1981 and earlier and the other 25 newer than 1982.) The pennies will be measured by placing a penny from each pile on the balance until all the pennies have been placed on the balance; students will observe that as you add more pennies to each side, it becomes unbalanced. Discuss how it is possible to have two equal volumes of pennies be unbalanced using their knowledge of weight, mass, volume and density from the day before.

For the remainder of class, have them explore the relationship between mass, volume and density by measuring and graphing their two sets of pennies. By creating a double line graph of their volume and mass, they will discover that their densities (indicated by the slope in their graph) are different. And that by taking the points on their graph and applying the rise/run equation they can obtain the density of each group of pennies.

To provide enrichment for those that are ready to take it a step further, have them research and compare densities of commonly used metals to discover what their two groups of pennies were composed of and what change was made in 1982 to change the density of the pennies.

Rainbow Density Lab

Students make salt water solutions varying in density to create a rainbow in a 10 mL graduated cylinder. Students apply their knowledge of solutes, solvents, solutions, and the properties of density.

Crime Scene Density Lab

Students will learn about the practical application of density measurement in the context of conducting a crime scene investigation of a break-in at the school.

Density of Solids and Liquids

In this Lab, students create their own definition for the term density and calculate the densities of different substances- solids and liquids. Students will learn that every substance has its own unique density, depending on how tightly atoms or molecules of the materials are packed. Students gather data about known samples to infer the identity of an unknown sample.

Note: This lesson will only cover the density portion of benchmark SC.8.P.8.4

What does it mean to be dense? Students will use card stock patterns to create two mini-boxes that they can fill with three different substances. The density of each substance will be compared when contained in both the smaller and larger boxes. Students will use their observations to develop an argument describing how the change in volume of the box affected the density of the substance.

SC.8.P.8.4 will not be completely covered; only the physical property of density will be addressed.
Silly Cylinders

This is a short activity where students determine the density of the human body by considering each part of the body to be a cylinder. I use this activity during the second week of school, so students have already had some practice with measurement. In addition to providing students with practice in data collection and problem solving, it is a good activity that allows teachers to measure students' previous knowledge in these areas.

Discovering Density Students observe the effects of density on flotation and develop an understanding of density as the amount mass per unit volume through discussion and experimentation. Students also work in groups to design an experiment to determine the densities of several irregularly shaped objects and use data to support a conclusion about the buoyancy of each object.
Measurement in the Science Classroom

Students will practice measuring length, mass, volume in a variety of ways using a variety of tools including triple beam balances and graduated cylinders. Density will then be calculated.

Determining the density of regular and irregular objects

This MEA provides students with opportunities to practice solving one-step equations while learning about density. Students will calculate density of regular and irregular objects.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Tranquilizer Chemistry - Temperature and Reaction Rates

Students must select a tranquilizer dart to be used by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for researching large animals. Next, they must help the US Geological Survey choose a new drilling device. Each projectile has varying characteristics based on the temperature of the chemicals inside. Students must select which temperature lends itself to a reaction suitable for service in animal research or geological studies. Other factors due to temperature come into play as well, such as density and melting point.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Constructing and Calibrating a Hydrometer

Students construct and calibrate a simple hydrometer using different salt solutions. They then graph their data and determine the density and salinity of an unknown solution using their hydrometer and graphical analysis.

Density and Viscosity Students perform an investigation leading them to conclude that temperature is a factor affecting viscosity. Reinforces graphing skills and cross disciplinary concepts.

Original Student Tutorial

Name Description
Classifying and Comparing Physical Properties

Learn to identify physical properties, compare and contrast substances based on their physical properties. In this interactive tutorial, you'll focus on density and determine whether physical properties have the ability to change.

Perspectives Video: Experts

Name Description
MicroGravity Sensors & Statistics

Statistical analysis played an essential role in using microgravity sensors to determine location of caves in Wakulla County.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Building and Deploying Floats

Glass is the clear choice for deep ocean research probes, if you know what shape to use.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Ocean Density

Let these thoughts about ocean density really sink in!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiasts

Name Description
Properties of Materials

This discussion about the physical properties of flamenco guitars is full of good vibes.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

How Material Properties affect Audio Recordings

Want a clean sound in your recording? Oxidation will test your mettle. Make sure you choose the right material for the job.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Perspectives Video: Teaching Ideas

Name Description
Shrinky Dink Density

Shrinky Dinks for science! Students learn about the properties of Shrinky Dinks by finding their mass, volume, and density before and after shrinking.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

An Illuminating Inquiry about Conductivity

In the dark about chemistry and conductivity? See the light as this chemist explains a great demonstration.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Teaching Ideas

Name Description
How Low Can it Go? SeaWorld Classroom Activity Students will investigate how salt and other dissolved solids can lower the freezing point of water.
Density of Solid Objects A series of straightforward simulations offers students a variety of ways to explore the concepts of mass, volume, and density. Students see that objects of the same mass may not have the same volume, objects of the same volume may not have the same mass, objects having a density greater than that of water sink in water, and the density of a floating object determines the position of the object in a tank of water.

Text Resources

Name Description
Vitamin Can Keep Electronics 'Healthy'

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. When electric charges build up on objects, static electricity can occur. Static electricity can be particularly harmful to electronic devices if there are small static discharges. Researchers have found that treating electronics with vitamin E can help reduce static electricity by removing free radicals that are attached to the charges.

Heat-Resistant Makeup

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Scientists have developed a new type of camouflage "makeup" for soldiers that can help prevent burns from nearby explosions. They have chemically swapped out flammable materials for a new heat-resistant polymer to create a type of makeup with applications well beyond the military.

Unit/Lesson Sequences

Name Description
Middle School Chemistry Unit | Chapter 5 | The Water Molecule and Dissolving Students investigate the polarity of the water molecule and design tests to compare water to less polar liquids for evaporation rate, surface tension, and ability to dissolve certain substances. Students also discover that dissolving applies to solids, liquids, and gases.
Middle School Chemistry Unit | Chapter 3 | Density Students experiment with objects that have the same volume but different mass and other objects that have the same mass but different volume to develop a meaning of density. Students also experiment with density in the context of sinking and floating and look at substances on the molecular level to discover why one substance is more or less dense than another.

Student Resources

Original Student Tutorial

Name Description
Classifying and Comparing Physical Properties:

Learn to identify physical properties, compare and contrast substances based on their physical properties. In this interactive tutorial, you'll focus on density and determine whether physical properties have the ability to change.

Perspectives Video: Expert

Name Description
MicroGravity Sensors & Statistics:

Statistical analysis played an essential role in using microgravity sensors to determine location of caves in Wakulla County.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiasts

Name Description
Properties of Materials:

This discussion about the physical properties of flamenco guitars is full of good vibes.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

How Material Properties affect Audio Recordings:

Want a clean sound in your recording? Oxidation will test your mettle. Make sure you choose the right material for the job.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.



Parent Resources

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiasts

Name Description
Properties of Materials:

This discussion about the physical properties of flamenco guitars is full of good vibes.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

How Material Properties affect Audio Recordings:

Want a clean sound in your recording? Oxidation will test your mettle. Make sure you choose the right material for the job.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.



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