Name(s): ___________________________________________

Investigation: Tools and Measurements                                                           

Introduction:  This investigation requires you to use various scientific tools to measure volume, mass, and dimensions of objects.   The goal is to become familiar with these tools and metric units. 

Materials:  Pipette, graduated cylinder, ruler, meter stick, beaker, water, balance (scale), marbles, empty plastic food container, calculator, plastic cups

Part A – How Many Drops Are in 1 ml of Water?


Volume is the amount of space that an object occupies or that can be enclosed in a container.  Liquids have volume that is measured using a beaker, a graduated cylinder, or a pipette. 

1.  A beaker is a large glass container, usually having a pour spout.  The beaker will have lines on the outside with a measurement and a number that tells you the total amount that can be held within.
How much liquid can your beaker measure? _______

2.  Fill a plastic cup with water and then empty it into the beaker.   What volume does the cup hold?   ____________

3.  A graduated cylinder measures volume but it a little bit more accurate than a beaker.     

Examine your graduated cylinder and note the numbered marks.  

How much liquid can your graduated cylinder hold?   __________

graduated cylinder

4.   Fill the plastic cup again and then carefully pour it into the graduated cylinder.   Examine the liquid at eye level to see where it is at the mark.  There may be a noticeable curve in the liquid (called the meniscus).     You should take your measurement at the bottom of this curve.  

Fill a plastic cup with water and then empty it into the graduated cylinder.

What volume does the cup hold?   ____________

6.  Pipettes are also used to measure volume, though usually only a small amount of volume can be used.  Examine the plastic pipette at your station.  How much liquid can it measure? ________

→Problem:  How can you measure the number of drops in a single milliliter of water?  

Discuss with your partner how you can use the tools provided to answer the question.  

Provide specific detailed instructions for how to answer this question.






Answer:  How many drops of water are in a single milliliter?  ______

Part B – What is the Volume of a Container?

1.  Solid objects have a volume.  Recall that volume refers to how much space an object takes up.

For symmetrical objects, volume is simply LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT     
Use a metric ruler to measure the box below and determine its volume (measure in cm)

The volume of the box is: ________________


2. You can also determine the volume of a box-shaped container (like plastic food storage containers) using the same method.   Obtain a storage container and measure the  length, width and depth.

Length = ____________ Width = ___________ Depth = __________

Calculate the volume of the container L x W x H (depth) = ______________

3.  Fill your container with water, then carefully pour the water out into a graduated cylinder or beaker.

 What volume of liquid does the container hold?  _____________________

4.  Is the volume from measuring similar to the volume from filling it with liquid?    Explain any differences.

5. For oddly shaped objects, a water displacement technique can determine the volume.

Find the volume of 3 marbles by filling a graduated cylinder to 20 ml. Drop the marbles in and see how much the water rises – this is the volume of the marbles. Complete the table below.

A) Volume of Water before adding marbles

B) Volume of Water after adding 3 marbles

Calculate (B minus A) 
Volume of all 3 marbles

20 ml (starting volume)


     Now determine the volume of a single marble by dividing your total (above) by 3. ___________ 

Drop a single marble into the graduated cylinder. What is its volume? ____________

Part C – Measure Length in Metric Units

1.   The three units of length you will be most familiar with are:  millimeters, centimeters, and meters. 

Use a meter stick to determine:   How many mm in a cm?  ________     How many cm in a m? _________

2. Use a meter stick or ruler to fill out the table below. (Grayed boxes need not be completed)

  In millimeters In centimeters In Meters
Height of lab table      
Length of lab table      
Width of door      
Your height      
Height of graduated cylinder      
Lengthof pipette      
Length of your shoe      

3.  Which measurement is the largest?  Circle your answer for each pair

a) 14 mm or  1 cm       b) 145 m  or 145 km       
c)  334 m   or   1 km      d)  3.4 cm or 30 mm     e)  1 m  or 990 cm 

4. Circle the BEST metric unit for each.

a) The length of an eyelash [  mm  cm   m   km ]         
b)  The height of a flagpole [  mm  cm   m   km ]
c) The length of your arm [  mm  cm   m   km ]             
d) The distance between Chicago and St Louis [  mm  cm   m   km ]


Part C: Mass of Objects

1. Determine the mass (in grams) of the 3 marbles: _________
Determine the mass of 1 marble: _____

2. Determine the mass of 20 ml of water. To do this you will need to weigh an empty graduated cylinder, then add the water and find the difference.
Mass of Graduated cylinder ______ 

Graduated Cylinder + 20 ml of water ______

Mass of 20 ml of water _____

3. Use the same technique to determine the mass of 50 ml of water: ___________

4. Do you think 20 ml of soda has a greater mass than 20 ml of water?   Design an experiment to test this. Explain how you will determine which one (soda or water) has the most mass.



1. What three tools are used to measure the volume of a liquid?




2.  Explain why a graduated cylinder is more accurate than a beaker.






3.   Explain how you could measure the volume of a toy dinosaur.  Use scientific terms for the tools you would use.






4.   In science, metric units are used.  Which unit is used for:

Volume? _______             Mass? ______             Length?  __________

5.  A tub holds 5000 liters of water. The tub is filled with 4000 liters of water. An object with a volume of 1100 liters, a mass of 60 kilograms, and a height of 120 cm is dropped into the tub. Will the water overflow?   Explain your answer.