Students were able to calculate the density of various objects successfully. In the past, I would have moved on at that point.
This time, I posed the question:
What if I had half the mass and volume of the rice?
The silence that resulted indicated they hadn't made that leap to understanding that density is a ratio. It took several minutes of probing to get students to think about how they could reason through the answer.
I'm doing that additional questioning more this year. In the Physical Science class, I had been talking about the experiment of Galileo's that proved that heavy objects don'[t fall faster than lightweight objects (featherweight objects excluded).
Several students admitted that they didn't believe that heavy objects didn't fall faster. I congratulated them on their honesty, and pointed out that Galileo's conclusions were counter-intuitive. We resist the conclusion that seems to be contradicting common sense.
Tuesday, after I return from my workshop, I plan to use the demonstration that uses a large book and paper, first separately, then with the paper on top of the book (to eliminate air resistance). I'm assigning more observation and reflection writing with this year's students, and it seems to be helping them.