Grades 9+

Archimedes was one of the most focused scientists and mathematicians of all time. A Greek, he lived in Syracuse, in Sicily (the island at the toe of Italy’s boot).

One day, he entered a public bath. His mind spun with a math challenge. He wanted to relax and let the stress drain away. He floated in the warm water, his eyes closed, his mind empty.

Suddenly, the answer to the math problem flashed through his mind. He leapt from the bath, ran outside, and, naked, raced through the streets, yelling out “Eureka! Eureka!” (I have found it!).

Another time, Syracuse’s tyrant believed that a goldsmith had replaced some of the pure gold with cheaper silver in a crown he was crafting. To prove this, the tyrant called upon Archimedes, the young math whiz. 

Archimedes knew gold is denser than silver. A piece of gold would be twice as heavy as the same size piece of silver. As entered his bath that day, Archimedes noticed water spilling out. He realized that the amount of displaced water must have been equal to his own volume.

In other words, if you know the size of an object, you can work out its density. He just had to find out if a piece of pure gold with the same size as the crown would displace the same amount of water.

It turned out that the king was correct in his suspicions. The craftsman had sneakily used some silver instead, which meant the crown was larger than it should have been. The dishonest goldsmith was in hot water.

Archimedes seemed to have done much of his best thinking in the baths, for it was there that he developed the principle of buoyancy. He figured out why objects of different shapes and sizes float. Now he could explain why a ship or a block of wood floats, but a rock or an iron ball sinks. His discovery revolutionized the understanding of how objects move in water and paved the way for discoveries in physics, chemistry, and engineering.

Another time, he was in his house, drawing geometric figures in the shallow box of sand that he used instead of paper. He was so absorbed in his work that he didn’t notice that Romans had attacked the city. When a Roman soldier entered the house, Archimedes didn’t even look up. 

“Keep off my sand!” he shouted. “Don’t disturb my circles!”

The Roman had orders not to harm the mathematician, but the shout so angered the soldier that he drew his sword and killed Archimedes.

Archimedes Activity 1

Find the words below in the essay. Then fill in the blanks of the noun test.  For example:


The ______________________.

The  runners

Some words will not fit.  Skip those.  Don’t identify their part of speech. For example:


The   enjoy

Write N after all the words that are nouns.  Don’t worry about the others.  Use the noun test: noun =  the ______   

1. Archimedes

4. Syracuse

7. time

10. math challenge

13. water

2. scientists

5. Sicily 

8. bath

11. stress

14. answer

3. Greek

6. island

9. mind

12. water

15. problem

Archimedes Activity 2

Repeat Archimedes Activity 2.  But this time you sometimes you will fill in the second blank.  To do that, you may need to fill in the first blank with a word that is not on the list. For example:


The ______________________ named __________________________.

The Camelot. The kingdom named  Camelot. 

Some words will not fit either blank.  Skip those.  For example:


The  about     The person named about 

Identify the nouns in the list below. Take into account how the word is used in the essay.

Write N after all the words that are nouns.  Don’t worry about the others.

Use the noun test: noun =  the ______   OR   the _______ named _______  

1. goldsmith

4. day

7. suspicions

10. block

13. paper

2. gold

5. object

8. water

11. silver 

14. Romans

3. math whiz

6. density

9. principle

12. rock

15. sword