GSS Books‎ > ‎Population Growth‎ > ‎2. Patterns‎ > ‎

2-5 Water Drops

What Do You Mean?
It's Only a Drop in the Bucket!

Adapted from a lab by Fred Goldberg and James Shuman, The Physics Teacher, October 1984, p.444.

Hypothesis: How much time do you estimate it will take to fill the bucket completely?


An empty bucket, a number of different sizes of droppers and beakers, and a water supply.


Drop of water captured by strobe photography
Photo by AMagill via Wikimedia Commons.  
Your task is to begin by putting one single drop of water into the bucket, and then doubling that amount every 30 seconds until the bucket is full. Make sure that one member of the group is keeping track of the number of drops you use each time.

Graph your data.

What would be your independent variable?

What would be your dependent variable?

How long did it take your group to fill the bucket?

Was your hypothesis close?

Write your reactions to these results. Can you think of a real life situation for which this is an analogy? (Other than the water torture).