Side Length, Volume, and Surface Area of Similar Solids
6th to 8th
The user can manipulate the scale factor that links two three-dimensional rectangular prisms and learn about the relationships among edge lengths, surface areas, and volumes.
To change the size of prism A, adjust the blue slider or
drag the upper right-hand vertex (red circle) in a diagonal motion.
Click on the Show/Hide Surface Area button to show or hide the graph,
values, and ratio of the surface areas. Click on the Show/Hide Volume
button to show or hide the graph, values, and ratio of the volumes.
Your task is to investigate how changing the
lengths of the sides of a rectangular prism affects the volume and
surface area of the prism. First notice that the two given rectangular
prisms are congruent (equal angles and equal sides). Now change the size
of the purple prism (A) by grabbing the red dot and dragging it
diagonally. Are the two prisms still congruent? Are they similar? Click
on "Show Volume." Change the size of prism A again and observe the
changes in the measurements. What is being depicted in the graph? What
can you say about the relationship between the side lengths and the
volume of a rectangular prism?Next, click on "Show Surface Area"
and "Hide Volume." Again, change the size of prism A and observe the
changes in measurement. What is being depicted in the graph? What can
you say about the relationship between the side lengths and the surface
area of a rectangular prism?
As students experiment with different ratios of side lengths
(different scale factors), they have the opportunity to observe and
interpret the changes in the volume and surface-area data. Students
should be encouraged to compare the scale factor to the ratio of the
volumes and to the ratio of the surface areas and Side Length and Area of Similar Figures
to look for patterns. Teachers can help students consider the
relationships between scale factor, side length, volume, and surface
area by asking questions like, What is being depicted in the "Volume"
graph? Similar questions can be asked about the "Surface Area" graph.
Creating tables of values for scale factor, side length, surface area,
and volume may help students organize their information and more easily
examine how a change in side length affects surface area and volume.Students
may notice a difference in the appearance of the graphs. It is
important to focus on why the relationship between side length and
volume is cubic whereas the relationship between side length and surface
area is quadratic. It contributes to students' understanding of the
measures of length, surface area, and volume, and it can help students
learn about scale factors. Teachers can help students take notice of
that difference by asking questions like, Why does the graph depicting
the relationship between side length and surface area differ from the
graph depicting the relationship between side length and volume?
Teachers can then help students understand that difference by asking
questions like, Compare the volume scale factor and the surface-area
factor. What is the relationship between those factors? How are those
factors represented in the "Volume" and "Surface Area" graphs?
The Geometry Standard states that "in grades 6–8 all students should
understand relationships among the angles, side lengths, perimeters,
areas, and volumes of similar objects."