The Chemist's tools 9.1.6 - The volume of a water drop


Students should:

  • Have an idea about the relative sizes of particles
  • Be able to use scientific notation in standard form to represent large and small numbers
  • Be able to assess sources of inaccuracy in an experimental procedure
  • Design and plan an experiment identifying the relevant variables.
  • Collect and transform data from a self-planned experiment


Matter: states and properties of matter.

Particle/kinetic theory, diffusion.

Pure and impure substances. Types of mixtures (solutions, oils, alloys, emulsions)

Separation techniques, including filtration, distillation [including crude oil - myp10], chromatography.

Teacher demonstration

The size of an oil molecule.

Demonstration 2

Measurement of the size of a molecule (oil drop)


Discussion: Big and small numbers - significant figures, scientific notation, logarithms.

This is a standard experiment using light oil on a flat surface covered by lycopodium powder.

Part of this will discuss how to measure the volume of an oil drop.

Student activity

Experiment to investigate a factor that could affect the volume of a water drop.

Experiment 3 - The volume of a water drop

The students are to design and carry out an investigation to find a variable that may affect the volume of a water drop delivered from a burette.


Criteria B & C - Inquiring and design, Processing and evaluating


Teacher's notes

The maths while simple can cause confusion in the less able students. Shape diagrams for cylinders and the oil drop on the surface are essential.

Pre-knowledge of maths skills is useful.


The density of water

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IsisSoft 2014