An Activity for Rectangular Prisms

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Even rectangular prisms are a topic that can be accurately explained with a fun game or two. Learn about an activity for rectangular prisms with help from an experienced educator in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Lessons in Math
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Marija. I'm a mathematician, and today I'm going to tell you an activity for rectangular prisms. I actually just did this with my students, and it turned out really nicely. Something you can do around Christmastime, if you want, 'cause it'll make more sense. It all has to do with gift wrapping. So, I gave all the students a textbook, which is obviously a rectangular prism, and told them that this is what they were going to wrap up as a gift for someone for Christmas. So, the issue with gift wrapping is always that you don't know if you've cut too much or too little, and mathematically, you can figure out before you cut it how much you need. So, they took a textbook, and they first measured the length, the width, and the height of it, 'cause these are the three dimensions that we're going to need in order to find the surface area. And first, you need to discuss why surface area is the tool that you need in order to discover how much wrapping paper you're going to use. So, once you've established the formula for surface area--two length times width, plus two width times height, plus two length times height--then you can have the kids do the measurements. So now, they're already practicing how to do their measurements and how to do some rounding. And then substitute into the formula. So, now they'll get the surface area of their book, and they'll figure out--you can push it a little further and figure out how much wrapping paper you need from there. So, let's say they figured out their surface area was twenty inches squared. Then you can give them a piece of wrapping paper. Tell them how long it is and how wide it is, and see if they could figure out how much they would need in order to cover the surface area of the book. And, if you want to go further than surface area, you could also do the volume-- but I wouldn't do it of a book. You could do it of a box. So, there's a lot of different activities you could do with rectangular prisms. My name is Marija, and I just gave you one activity that you can do with rectangular prisms.


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