Cookie Surface Area

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This is an activity (on page 2 of the PDF under Surface Area Activity) about surface area to volume ratio. Learners will bake sugar cookies, testing how much colored sugar is rolled up by 1 large ball of dough vs. an equal amount of dough divided into 20-25 small balls. Surface area to volume ratio is an important concept in nanotechnology because it helps explain why the same substance can behave differently when broken into nanosized pieces. Also relates to linked video, DragonflyTV Nano: Surface Area.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • sugar cookie dough
  • 1 tablespoon red sugar (or color of your choosing)
  • 1 tablespoon green sugar (or color of your choosing)
  • wax paper
  • measuring spoons
  • oven
  • cookie sheets


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Number and Operations
      • Fractions
      • Multiples and Factors
    • Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • taste
  • 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:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2008

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 741749