Bronxville School 6th-Grade Math: Teaching Volume and Surface Area with Cereal Boxes Print

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Contributed by Michael Ganci, Syntax, for The Bronxville School

Jun. 5, 2019:  Bronxville Middle School sixth0grade students, who have been learning how to calculate volume and surface area in Brittany Braia’s and Rachel Sugarman’s math classes, tested their skills by designing and building their own original cereal boxes.

Using cardboard, paint, paper towel rolls, laminating sheets, aluminum foil, Post-it Notes, Model Magic, construction paper, and cardstock, the students worked in groups to complete their projects. They were challenged to create a new shape for a container that was eye-catching, unique, and could hold two cups of cereal. In addition, they created a net for their cereal box and labeled it with exact measurements in centimeters, including the pieces that overlap to seal the box. The students’ designs also included a label that displayed the product name, capacity, ingredients, UPC code, and nutrition facts.

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“The students’ designs were very creative,” Braia said. “One group created a cereal box using a triangular prism on top of a rectangular prism with a cylinder chimney. Another group created ‘Pharaoh Os,’ designing an Egyptian rectangular pyramid. Others designed rocket ships from similar composite figures. These designs stand out most due to the thoughtful connection between the shape, design, cereal name, and overall theme.”

Once their boxes were completed, the students calculated the surface area and volume of the boxes, as well as the amount of necessary materials

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“It’s really exciting to hear students say this is their favorite project we’ve done all year,” Sugarman said. “We hope students have a deeper appreciation of the relationship between two- and three-dimensional objects and how math skills are needed in a variety of contexts.”

Pictured here: Bronxville Middle School sixth grade students testing their math skills by designing and building their own original cereal boxes.

Photos courtesy of The Bronxville School


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