Learning Math: Measurement
Measurement Relationships Part B: Surface Area and Volume (40 minutes)
Session 9, Part B
In This Part
- Determining the Relationship
- Human Measurements
Determining the Relationship
In the previous part, you learned that the relationship between perimeter and area is dynamic; namely, the amount of area or perimeter of a shape is not fixed in relation to the measure of the other variable.
How about the relationship between surface area and volume? Do prisms with the same volume have the same surface area? Let’s explore this relationship.
Take 24 multilink cubes or building blocks and imagine that each cube represents a fancy chocolate truffle. For shipping purposes, these truffles need to be packaged into boxes in the shape of rectangular prisms. Knowing that you must always package 24 truffles (i.e., your volume is set at 24 cubic units), what are the possible dimensions for the boxes? Record your information in the table below:
The dimensions must all be factors of 24 — 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24.
Which of your packaging arrangements requires a box with the least amount of material? The greatest amount of material? Why is the amount of material needed for packaging important?
What do you notice about the shape of the package that has the smallest surface area? How about the package with the greatest surface area?
When the volume is constant (as in the truffles problem), the surface area depends on the shape of the solid. But what happens to the surface area of a solid as its volume increases — does surface area increase at the same rate as volume?
Use multilink cubes or building blocks to create different-sized cubes from the table below. Calculate the volumes and surface areas of the cubes. Examine the proportional relationship between surface area (SA) and volume (V) by creating a surface area-to-volume ratio (SA:V). As volume increases, what happens to the ratio of surface area to volume?
You may find it helpful to build the different-sized cubes first and then to use the models to confirm your calculations of the volumes and surface areas. If cubes aren’t available, you could make a sketch of the cubes on graph paper to help you visualize the surface area of each face. Write the surface area-to-volume ratios and look for patterns.
Size of Cube
|1 by 1 by 1|
|2 by 2 by 2|
|3 by 3 by 3|
|4 by 4 by 4|
|5 by 5 by 5|
|6 by 6 by 6|
|7 by 7 by 7|
|8 by 8 by 8|
Watch this video segment after you’ve completed Problem B4 to see what Lori and Jayne found out about the relationship between the volume and surface area of solid objects.Did you express this relationship differently?You can find this segment on the session video approximately 11 minutes and 49 seconds after the Annenberg Media logo.
Over the last decade, we have seen the genesis of the giant “superstore.” What kind of surface area-to-volume ratio do you think superstores have? Why do companies build such large stores?
Your body’s surface area is a measurement of the skin that covers your body. You may have noticed that adults and children (and babies in particular) have very different reactions to heat and cold. This happens because the body cools down by sweating at a rate proportional to the area of its skin, but warms up in proportion to its mass (volume). The ratio of surface area to mass is much larger for babies, so they cool down faster than adults. As a result, babies can catch a chill even when adults feel warm.
Use multilink cubes to build a model of a baby and of an adult. You can use a simple, trimmed-down model, or you can build a more realistic one. Once you’ve completed your models, calculate the surface area-to-volume ratio for the baby and the adult.
In the summer, we’re warned not to leave babies or pets in cars. Yet on a hot day, an adult can sit in a car for a short period of time without harm. Use your models and mathematics to explain what is occurring in these situations, and why babies dehydrate so much more quickly than adults.
Take It Further
In Session 6, you learned that about 100 handprints will cover the body. You used your estimate of the area of your handprint to approximate your surface area. Another approach to estimating surface area is to see how much of you fits into a square.
The picture below is based on a famous drawing by Leonardo da Vinci. As shown in the picture, the person more or less fits in the square.
A person’s height is approximately equal to his or her arm span (from fingertip to fingertip).
- Measure your height and arm span in centimeters and find the area of “your square.”
- Many have suggested that three-fifths of the square is a reasonable approximation for surface area. How does three-fifths of the area of your square compare with your first approximation of your surface area based on hand size?
Another way to approximate a person’s surface area is to use a simple formula:
Height (cm) • Thigh Circumference (cm) • 2 = Body Surface Area (cm2)
- Find your surface area using this formula.
- What do you think the above formula is based on?
- Do you think the above formula would work for determining the surface area of a baby? Why or why not?
Since surface area is also related to weight, health care workers usually use a chart called a nomograph to estimate a person’s surface area. To use the nomograph, a person’s height (in centimeters) is located in the left-hand column, and a person’s weight (in kilograms) is located in the right-hand column. These points are connected with a straight line. The surface area of a person’s body is shown where the line crosses the middle scale.
Use the nomograph to estimate your own body’s surface area. Note that 1 kg = 2.2 lb.
The density of the human body is a little greater than the density of water because of our bones and organs. One kilogram of body mass occupies a volume of about 0.9 L. Determine the volume of your body by multiplying your weight in kilograms by 0.9.
- What is your surface area-to-volume ratio?
- What is the surface area-to-volume ratio of a child who weighs 55 lb. and is 40 in. tall?
- Compare the two ratios. How do these measurements compare with your first estimates?
This problem will be easier to solve if you convert to metric measures.
“Human Measurements” adapted from Romberg, T., et al. Made to Measure. Mathematics in Context. © 1998 by Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
The problems in this section require some conversions between the U.S. customary system and the metric system. You can use the Web site www.onlineconversion.com to find the proper conversions.
Here is the completed table:
The least amount of material is required by the 2-by-3-by-4 box. The greatest amount of material is required by the 1-by-1-by-24 box. The amount of packaging material needed is important, since charges for such material are figured in square inches or square feet, and reducing the amount of needed material will reduce the cost of shipping. Also, the cost of making the box itself will be lower if there is a smaller surface area.
In practical terms, however, you may want to use more packaging material so that the truffles don’t get damaged. Also, customers may feel that they’re getting more for their money if there is more packaging and the box is larger.
The rectangular prisms with the greatest surface area have dimensions that are far apart (1 by 1 by 24), whereas the prisms with smaller surface area have dimensions close to each other (e.g., 2 by 3 by 4).
Here is the completed table:
Size of Cube
|1 by 1 by 1||6 • 12 = 6||13 = 1||6:1|
|2 by 2 by 2||6 • 22 = 24||23 = 8||6:2 (or 3:1)|
|3 by 3 by 3||6 • 32 = 54||33 = 27||6:3 (or 2:1)|
|4 by 4 by 4||6 • 42 = 96||43 = 64||6:4 (or 3:2)|
|5 by 5 by 5||6 • 52 = 150||53 = 125||6:5|
|6 by 6 by 6||6 • 62 = 216||63 = 216||6:6 (or 1:1)|
|7 by 7 by 7||6 • 72 = 294||73 = 343||6:7|
|8 by 8 by 8||6 • 82 = 384||83 = 512||6:8 (or 3:4)|
In general, the ratio is 6:s, since the surface area formula is 6s2 and the volume formula is s3.
Here is the graph that shows what happens to the ratio of surface area to volume (expressed as a decimal) as the volume increases:
The superstore’s surface area-to-volume ratio is as small as possible, compared to smaller stores. This gives a company the ability to put more products inside the store (since volume is relatively large), in comparison to how much it may cost to build the store (since surface area is relatively small).
Answers will vary, but the baby has a higher surface area-to-volume ratio than the adult.
Since babies have a higher surface area-to-volume ratio, and water is a volume-based measurement, babies lose proportionately more water per minute than adults do. As a result, babies will dehydrate more quickly.
- Answers will vary. The measurements of your height and arm span should be pretty close to each other.
- Answers will vary, but the measurements should be pretty close.
- Answers will vary.
- The formula might be based on empirical measurements only, but it treats the entire body as though it had the same circumference as the thighs. It is somewhat similar to the surface-area formula for a cylinder.
- It might, but if babies’ thighs are not in the same proportions as adults’ thighs (and generally they aren’t), then this isn’t a good measure.
Answers will vary. One example is someone with the height of 170 cm and weight of 65 kg, who has the approximate surface area of 17,600 cm2.
Answers will vary. For example, a person with the weight of 65 kg will have the volume of 58.5 L.
- Answers will vary. Using our previous example, the surface area-to-volume ratio is 17,600:58.5.
- Converting the measures to the metric system, the child’s height is about 101.6 cm, and the weight is about 25 kg. Using the nomograph, the surface area is about 8,000 cm2. The volume is 22.5 L. The surface area-to-volume ratio is 8,000:22.5.
- Converting the two ratios into decimals, we get the ratio for an adult to be about 300.86 and for the child 355.56. As you might expect, the child’s surface area-to-volume ratio is higher than an adult’s.
Session 1 What Does It Mean To Measure?
Explore what can be measured and what it means to measure. Identify measurable properties such as weight, surface area, and volume, and discuss which metric units are more appropriate for measuring these properties. Refine your use of precision instruments, and learn about alternate methods such as displacement. Explore approximation techniques, and reason about how to make better approximations.
Session 2 Fundamentals of Measurement
Investigate the difference between a count and a measure, and examine essential ideas such as unit iteration, partitioning, and the compensatory principle. Learn about the many uses of ratio in measurement and how scale models help us understand relative sizes. Investigate the constant of proportionality in isosceles right triangles, and learn about precision and accuracy in measurement.
Session 3 The Metric System
Learn about the relationships between units in the metric system and how to represent quantities using different units. Estimate and measure quantities of length, mass, and capacity, and solve measurement problems.
Session 4 Angle Measurement
Review appropriate notation for angle measurement, and describe angles in terms of the amount of turn. Use reasoning to determine the measures of angles in polygons based on the idea that there are 360 degrees in a complete turn. Learn about the relationships among angles within shapes, and generalize a formula for finding the sum of the angles in any n-gon. Use activities based on GeoLogo to explore the differences among interior, exterior, and central angles.
Session 5 Indirect Measurement and Trigonometry
Learn how to use the concept of similarity to measure distance indirectly, using methods involving similar triangles, shadows, and transits. Apply basic right-angle trigonometry to learn about the relationships among steepness, angle of elevation, and height-to-distance ratio. Use trigonometric ratios to solve problems involving right triangles.
Session 6 Area
Learn that area is a measure of how much surface is covered. Explore the relationship between the size of the unit used and the resulting measurement. Find the area of irregular shapes by counting squares or subdividing the figure into sections. Learn how to approximate the area more accurately by using smaller and smaller units. Relate this counting approach to the standard area formulas for triangles, trapezoids, and parallelograms.
Session 7 Circles and Pi (π)
Investigate the circumference and area of a circle. Examine what underlies the formulas for these measures, and learn how the features of the irrational number pi (π) affect both of these measures.
Session 8 Volume
Explore several methods for finding the volume of objects, using both standard cubic units and non-standard measures. Explore how volume formulas for solid objects such as spheres, cylinders, and cones are derived and related.
Session 9 Measurement Relationships
Examine the relationships between area and perimeter when one measure is fixed. Determine which shapes maximize area while minimizing perimeter, and vice versa. Explore the proportional relationship between surface area and volume. Construct open-box containers, and use graphs to approximate the dimensions of the resulting rectangular prism that holds the maximum volume.
Session 10 Classroom Case Studies, K-2
Watch this program in the 10th session for K-2 teachers. Explore how the concepts developed in this course can be applied through case studies of K-2 teachers (former course participants who have adapted their new knowledge to their classrooms), as well as a set of typical measurement problems for K-2 students.
Session 11 Classroom Case Studies, 3-5
Watch this program in the 10th session for grade 3-5 teachers. Explore how the concepts developed in this course can be applied through case studies of grade 3-5 teachers (former course participants who have adapted their new knowledge to their classrooms), as well as a set of typical measurement problems for grade 3-5 students.
Session 12 Classroom Case Studies, 6-8
Watch this program in the 10th session for grade 6-8 teachers. Explore how the concepts developed in this course can be applied through case studies of grade 6-8 teachers (former course participants who have adapted their new knowledge to their classrooms), as well as a set of typical measurement problems for grade 6-8 students.