Monday, October 29, 2012

Teaching Volume by Packing a Suitcase With Textbooks

Packing a suitcase is an art that I have never mastered. My wife can go on a four day weekend to Miami with a carry-on while I’m stuck checking a large bag in addition to a carry-on. Much of this may stem from my inability to distinguish between what is needed to take on a trip and what isn’t, but it’s also a volume problem. My wife just seems to be able to pack her suitcase better than myself.

The purpose of the activity is to have students calculate the volume of a suitcase, then calculate the sum of volumes they wish to pack inside the suitcase and finally fill it. For this activity I would suggest filling the bag with classroom textbooks (as this tends to be the sum of their worth if you ask me).

You Will Need:

  • 2-4 Suitcases

  • 2-4 Groups

  • Rulers

  • Endless Supply of Textbooks

  • Worksheet (see types of questions below)

Classroom Activity:

Step 1: Create At Least 2-4 workstations and place different suitcases at each workstation
Step 2: Have students break up into 2-4 groups and give each group one textbook and one ruler

Step 3: Have each group calculate the volume of their textbook and record it

Step 4: Send each group to a workstation

Step 5: Have each group take 5mins calculating the volume of each suitcase at their workstation.

Step 6: After 5 mins, switch stations and record the volume again

Step 7: After the volume of each suitcase has been recorded have each group estimate how many textbooks can fit in each suitcase.

Step 8: Have the groups test their estimation by filling each suitcase with as many textbooks as possible.


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