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What is Volume in Science? - Lesson for Kids

Lesson Transcript
Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Expert Contributor
Kathryn Boddie

Kathryn has taught high school or university mathematics for over 10 years. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, an M.S. in Mathematics from Florida State University, and a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Volume is the space of an object, calculated by using measurements of length, width, and height. Explore volume's relationship to weight, and learn how it is used in science through an example experiment. Updated: 12/06/2021

What Is Volume?

Look at an object next to you and describe it. There are many ways to describe an item. For example, you might talk about its color, shape, and size or whether it's hard or soft. When you talk about an object in this way--based on what it looks like, feels like, or by taking simple measurements--you are describing its physical properties. Objects have many physical properties. One physical property that you may not have heard of is volume.

Volume refers to the amount of space the object takes up. In other words, volume is a measure of the size of an object, just like height and width are ways to describe size. If the object is hollow (in other words, empty), volume is the amount of water it can hold. Try this at home: Take a large cup and a small cup. Fill the small cup with water, then pour the water into the big cup. Since the amount of water that filled the small cup is not enough to fill the large cup, what can you figure out about the volume of the cups? The smaller cup has less volume!

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  • 0:02 What Is Volume?
  • 1:09 Is Volume the Same as Weight?
  • 1:50 An Experiment
  • 2:17 Lesson Summary
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Is Volume the Same as Weight?

It is important to keep in mind that volume is NOT the same as weight. Weight is also a physical property, but unlike volume, it refers to how heavy something is. For example, something that is large and made of plastic, like an empty milk jug, is going to weigh a lot less than something that is large and made of metal, like a cooking pot.

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Additional Activities

Calculating Volume Activity

In this activity, we will measure some containers and convert the volume we measure into ounces. Then, we will test our measurement accuracy by seeing if the container can hold the number of ounces of water we calculated. This activity takes precision and some calculations - some help from an adult is suggested. After completing the activity, students will have a better understanding of what volume actually means - it is the space that an object takes up.


  • Cylindrical or rectangular containers (empty cans of different sizes, empty plastic food storage containers, etc.)
  • Ruler with centimeters
  • Paper and pencil
  • Calculator
  • Measuring cup with ounce measurements
  • Water


1) Measure your container to calculate the volume.

  • If you are using a cylindrical container, you will need to measure the diameter of the can (the distance across the circle part of the can that divides the circle in half) and the height of the can in centimeters. Write the measurements down. Then use the calculator to calculate the volume using this formula: V = 3.14 *height*(diameter / 2) ^2 . It might be easier to type it in as 3.14*height*diameter*diameter / 4. Write down the volume. This is the volume measured in cubic centimeters.
  • If you are using a rectangular container, you will need to measure the length, width and height of the container in centimeters. Write the measurements down. Then, use the calculator to calculate the volume using this formula: V=length*width*height. Write down the volume. This is the volume measured in cubic centimeters.

2) Convert the volume from step 1) into ounces. To do this, take your volume and divide by 29.574 using the calculator. Write down the new version of the volume. This changes the volume to be measured in ounces.

3) Fill a measuring cup with ounces of water equal to the ounces you calculated in step 2). Try to be as accurate as you can.

4) Either over a sink or outside (to not make a mess) - pour the water from the measuring cup into your container. How close was your calculation? If you were very accurate, the water will fill the container up almost perfectly (a little may spill or it may be a little short due to errors in measurement or rounding). If a lot of water spills or there's a lot of room left in the container, retry measuring your container and recalculate.

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