Constructing & Measuring Right Rectangular Prisms From Nets

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

After reading this lesson, you'll learn how you can create your own nets to make your own rectangular prism boxes for gifts. You'll also learn how you can figure out how much gift wrapping you'll need.

A Net

Your friend has just graduated from college and you want to give him a very special gift. Your friend just happens to love old style pens, so you have purchased him a 100 year old fountain pen. Now, you need to make a box to fit the pen. You don't want the pen to be flopping around, so it needs to fit the pen well. The pen comes with a stand, so it needs to be big enough to hold the stand as well.

To make your box, you begin by constructing a net of the box. This net is what you get when you unfold the sides of the box so it's all flat. You can also begin with a net and fold it into a box. To make your net, you remember that your box needs to have a total of 6 sides. You decide to make a net where the bottom is surrounded by its four sides and then the top connected to one of the sides.

rectangular prism net

This net of the box that you are making is also called a right rectangular prism, basically a rectangular box. A prism is a solid piece, whereas your box is hollow. The resulting net from both shapes is the same, however.

Forming the Net

Once you have your net, you can now go ahead and form it. To form it, you bend your net at all the edges. Once you've bended all the edges, it will take the shape of your box or right rectangular prism.

rectangular prism net

The two little rectangles of your net have become your left and right sides of the box. The long rectangles have become your bottom, your top, and your front and back sides.

Measuring the Net

Now that you have your rectangular prism box, you now need to figure out how much wrapping paper you'll need to wrap it. To figure this out, you'll actually be figuring out the surface area of your prism, your box. Since you have your net, it actually makes your job that much easier. You can use your net and its dimensions to calculate your surface area. All you have to do is to figure out the individual areas of your rectangles and add them up to find the surface area of your right rectangular prism box.

Here are the dimensions for your net.

rectangular prism net

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