Building the Concept of Volume

by Jennifer Knudsen, March 4, 2019

images of soma cubes

Our project combines math and computational thinking with 3D modeling and printing for grades 5-7. We’re now designing a classroom unit where kids use modeling, printing, and more typical making materials to create useful, beautiful objects.

What math? Geometry is a natural for 3D modeling. And volume is a topic that cuts across geometry and measurement in grades 5-7. For example, before they design their own objects, students start by building a cube puzzle and they come to understand that volume is the amount of space an object takes up and that it can be measured in cubic units. At first, they are just counting cubes. But that leads the way to thinking about counting in an organized fashion, which leads to a multiplication view of volume (You know, length•width•height). Instead of just giving kids the formula, we have them build their understanding of volume this way. Happily, that matches up with the Common Core and many current state standards.

Image by fdecomite and used under Creative Commons 2.0.