Once kids can calculate the volume of a rectangle prism, we want to move them up Bloom’s Taxonomy. We want to add complexity, not just give them more practice problems.
Here’s a lesson that I cooked up over at Byrdseed.TV for working with volume.
1. Find Some Laptops!
First, I’d have students find five laptops from across history (this Wikipedia page is a nice starting point). They’ll jot down essential measurements about each laptop necessary to compute their volumes.
Bonus: this is a chance to spark all kinds of curiosity, as some of these old laptops are wild looking.
Now, students will calculate the volume of the five laptops they chose, estimating them as rectangular prisms. Note that we want kids to have to make decisions here that do not have a “right” answer.
They have to figure out the best way to make the estimate given a shape that isn’t a perfect rectangular prism. Do not rescue them from this critical thinking. Be a meddler in the middle!
3. Sketch in 3D!
Next, students will pick their two favorite laptops and sketch them using this cool, triangular dot grid paper to create accurate, three-dimensional, scaled drawings.
4. Create Shapes With Equivalent Volumes
Now, we keep moving up Bloom’s. Students will explore shapes with equivalent volumes. That is, they’re going to redistribute the volume of one of their laptops into a new, 3D shape with the same volume. Same volume, different dimensions.
5. Build Those Laptops!
Finally, yes, they’ll actually build two of their sketches: the laptop’s original dimensions and then a model of the reconfigured dimensions with an equivalent volume.
Naturally, students can continue extending this idea by finding equivalent volumes of other items or building on the marketing of their “new laptop design.”
Want a fully planned out version of this lesson? I have one at Byrdseed.TV!