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Sort It Out!

This challenging activity will require you to sort out materials using physical properties. Make sure that you follow the safety instructions. This activity is designed to measure your ability to complete scientific experiments. Good luck!


  • Test tube
  • 50 ml. or 100 ml. beaker
  • Small piece of filter paper
  • 4 g. Salt
  • 4 g. Sand
  • 2 g. Iron filings
  • 2 g. Sawdust
  • 5 g. Pebbles that will fit into the test tube
  • 10 ml. Water (1 ml. water = 1 g. water)
  • Forceps (tweezers)
  • Magnet
  • Balance scale
Safety concerns: icon Be sure to keep all glassware, and chemical safety rules. As with all science lab activities, the most important safety rule is to follow all teacher directions.


  1. Decide which substance you are going to remove first, second, third, etc., and write them in that order in the first column of the table.
  2. Decide how you are going to remove the first substance, then the second, etc..., and write the method in the second column of the table in the order you selected in procedure 1.
  3. Put the salt, sand, iron filings, sawdust and pebbles into the test tube. Leave the water out for now.
  4. Find the total mass of the 5 ingredients. Add 10g for the water.
  5. Carry out your experiment. Weigh each substance as you remove it and record the mass in the third column of the table.


Substance Removed




Complete the following:

A- Mass of the beaker.
B- Mass of the beaker and salt water.
C- Mass of the salt water (B-A).
D- Total Mass of separated ingredients (from table).
E- Add the masses (C+D).
F - Mass of ingredients from number 4 procedure.
  1. Compare the mass at "E" and "F" above.
    • Are they the same?
    • Why or why not?
  2. Did any of the material masses change?
    • Explain any changes you observed.

Review Science safetey rules here.

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Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 8th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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