The Boxes Go Mobile

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Learners display their findings after a study of surface area and volume. They build a mobile to show a commercially available box and a constructed cubical box of the same volume. Learners also display the pieces left over from the original box showing that the cubical box has less surface area. This activity requires learners to have previous knowledge of calculating surface area and volume. Activity time can be divided over multiple meetings.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • empty cereal box (or pasta, crackers, cookies, etc.)
  • cubical box constructed from same kind of box as the first box
  • leftover pieces from construction
  • scissors
  • tape (masking and transparent)
  • 36-inch dowel rods that are three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter
  • utility knife (can be shared)
  • single-hole punch (can be shared)
  • white glue and/or clear nail polish
  • poster paper
  • regular sewing or heavy thread


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Equations and Inequalities
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
      • Solid Geometry
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Hebrank, Mary R.

Source Collection

  • TeachEngineering


  • All rights reserved, Regents of the University of Colorado, 2013