Lesson ideas for working with the Surface Area and Volume applet

Suggestion: It is suggested that the students be familiar with area and perimeter before being introduced to surface area.

This particular applet allows the user to manipulate the length, width, and height variables of rectangular and triangular prisms. This applet can be used as an exploration tool along with or in replacement of blocks. To begin the exploration explain to your class this applet will allow them to manipulate the height, width, and volume of a rectangular prism, and their job is to see if they can find any patterns that form by changing the different variables. Next, have the students open up the Surface Area and Volume applet, spend 15 - 20 minutes trying to observe patterns, and record the patterns they discover. For the more advanced students you can have them try to find equations that will enable them to calculate the surface area and volume of any given rectangular prism. Monitor the class's progress assisting those students having difficulty. After the majority of students have found some patterns bring the class together and ask different students to share some of the patterns they observed with the class. Now you can see if any of your students can suggest an equation for surface area or volume. If no one has any suggestions have the class partner up and see if they can work together to discover the equations.