cylinder geometry surface area tasks visual

Re-Constructing Shapes

For the first time in a decade, I am not reconvening with a high school staff to begin preparations for the school year. (I’m preparing to work with pre-service teachers on a university campus). It feels weird–very weird. It is a day that I look forward to because optimism is a constant across the building. Staff feels fresh, materials are crisp, and possibilities are endless. It sadly belies what’s to come.

Bummer, right?

area cylinder surface area tasks volume

Solid Fusing Task

The progression followed by most teachers and resources during the study of surface area and volume is identical. Like a intravenous drip, concepts are released gradually to the patients so as to not overdose them with complexity. Begin with the calculation of 2-dimensional areas, and then proceed to the calculation of surface area of familiar prisms. (I say prisms, so a parallel can be drawn to the common structure for finding the volume of said prisms. That is, [area of base x height]). In this way, surface area is conceptualized as nothing more than a dissection of 3-dimensional solids into the now familiar 2-dimensional shapes. 

cylinder sphere tasks volume

Finding a Radius

I designed a class around the pedagogy of Project Based Learning this semester. As the school year passes by at mach speed, I have adapted certain activities and projects to fit my students’ needs. The result is a class based around providing tools, and tackling interesting tasks with them. Each set of problems (or unit) is capped with a large project.

We are in the midst of a surface area and volume unit. We have tackled the major solids and prisms. Netting, superimposing grids, converting units, analyzing packaging etc. Throughout the entire class, I have been highlighting the various “employable skills” that they are honing with their work. Estimation, problem solving, critical thinking, diagnostics, peer work, spatial reasoning and the like.