Surface Area and Volume

Shodor > Interactivate > Lessons > Surface Area and Volume


This lesson is designed to introduce students to surface area and volume.


Upon completion of this lesson, students will:

  • have been introduced to the notion of surface area and volume.
  • have learned the terminology used with surface area and volume.
  • have experimented with the surface area and volume of different prisms.

Standards Addressed:

Textbooks Aligned:

Student Prerequisites

  • Arithmetic: Student must be able to:
    • perform integer and rational arithmetic
  • Technological: Students must be able to:
    • perform basic mouse manipulations such as point, click and drag
    • use a browser for experimenting with the activities

Teacher Preparation

Key Terms

surface areaA measure of the number of square units needed to cover the outside of a figure
volumeA measure of the number of cubic units needed to fill the space inside an object

Lesson Outline

  1. Focus and Review

    Remind students of what they learned in previous lessons that will be pertinent to this lesson and/or have them begin to think about the words and ideas of this lesson:

    • Ask students if they recall how to find the area of a two-dimensional shape, such as a square.
    • Entertain a discussion on surface area and volume of three-dimensional figures.

  2. Objectives

    Let the students know what they will be doing and learning today. Say something like this:

    • Today, class, we will be talking about the surface area and volume of three dimensional figures.
    • We are going to use the computers to learn about surface area and volume, but please do not turn your computers on or go to this page until I ask you to. I want to show you a little about the program first.

  3. Teacher Input

    • Open your browser to Surface Area and Volume in order to demonstrate this activity to the students.
    • Show the students how to choose between a triangluar prism and a rectangular prism. You may need to briefly discuss what these figures are.
    • Show students how to use the scroll bars to adjust the length, width, and height of the prisms.
    • Show students how to adjust the view of the figure using the three buttons at the top of the applet. Talk about what each view is showing. Be sure to show the students that clicking on the figure and rotating it will allow them to view it from any angle they choose.
    • Point out to students the place where the surface area and volume of the figures is displayed.

  4. Guided Practice

    • Once you have verified that there are no questions regarding the use of the applet, pass out the Worksheet To Accompany "Surface Area and Volume"
    • Walk the students together through question 1 on the worksheet -- make sure they understand the slider bars for controlling size.

  5. Independent Practice

    • Allow the students to work independently or in small groups on the rest of the worksheet as you monitor the room for progress.
    • Have the students repeat the worksheet for the triangular prism, commenting on how finding each answer on the sheet changes from the rectangle to the triangles.

  6. Closure

    • You may wish to bring the class back together for a discussion of the findings. Once the students have been allowed to share what they found, summarize the results of the lesson. It is important that every student know the correct answers to the worksheet in order to fully understand surface area and volume.

Alternate Outline

This lesson can be rearranged for the one computer classroom. Have the students work through the worksheet by directing your movements on the computer.

Find us in the App Store

a resource from CSERD, a pathway portal of NSDL NSDL CSERD