Incredible Shrinking Shapes

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In this activity, learners get hands-on experience with ratios and scaling while making their own jewelry out of recycled plastic containers. Learners will practice measuring area and volume as well as calculating ratios. This activity should be conducted in a well-ventilated area. The lesson guide contains detailed tips for leaders including background information about the math and science concepts related to this activity.

Quick Guide

  • Preparation Time: Under 5 minutes
  • Learning Time: 45 to 60 minutes
  • Estimated materials cost: free
  • Age Range: Ages 11 - 14
  • Language: English

Materials List (per group of students)

  • toaster oven or standard oven
  • cookie sheet or aluminum foil
  • spatula
  • pot holder
  • polystyrene (recyclable number 6) plastic
  • fine-tipped permanent markers, preferably in assorted colors
  • hole punchers
  • scissors
  • metric rulers
  • calculators
  • copies of Incredible Shrinking Shapes Data Sheet and Grid paper
  • clothespins or binder clips (optional)
  • scale (optional)

Informal Category

  • Arts and Crafts


  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Equations and Inequalities
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Number and Operations
      • Exponents
      • Fractions
      • Multiples and Factors
    • Problem Solving
    • Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

To use this activity learners need to

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Pat Murphy; Lori Lambertson; Pearl Tesler; Exploratorium


All Rights Reserved, Exploratorium, ©2003

Printed Materials

  • 2003. The Math Explorer. : Key Curriculum Press (Find it on WorldCat or Amazon)


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