Surface Area & Volume Projects

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

There are many surface area and volume equations students need to learn and use. Involvement in multi-lesson projects provides students with consistent practice to help these equations sink in. Check out these ideas.

Surface Area and Volume Projects

Learning about surface area and volume requires practice. Students have to not only know the formulas for calculating the areas of various 2-D shapes and the volumes of various 3-D shapes, but they also have to creatively put those formulas together to find total areas and volumes. The more practice they have, the better they'll get.

One way to give them a significant amount of practice is to involve your students in a project. This project can take a few lessons, or it can be done gradually over the course of several months. Here are some ideas for surface area and volume projects.

Candy Box Design

Practically everyone loves candy, and someone has to design the boxes it's sold in. We're thinking about the traditional types that come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the kinds you often find in movie theaters, or novelty boxes of candy you might give someone as a gift. For this project, students will be tasked with designing a box that could be used for packaging a particular type of new candy. You should tell them the exact size of the candy in question. For example, the candy may be cylinder shaped with a 1.5 cm diameter and a 1 cm depth. You must also tell them the number of candies that will be held inside each box. These specifications can be different for each group.

The end result of the project should be a candy box created from a net that is drawn on a single piece of card stock. The goal is to create a design which stores the candy as efficiently as possible while using the fewest possible materials. They should also create several ideas for designs and compare them to decide on which is best. They can then present their finished candy boxes to the class through a poster presentation - you can even have them name the type of candy and create a little advertisement. There are a lot of possibilities for this project.

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