Size Them Up: Learning About Volume and Capacity

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In this activity, learners will put a set of containers in order by capacity. Would the tallest container hold more or less water than the wide, short one? Is that more or less than the pyramid shape? All ages will find something to puzzle over as they try to line up containers in order by capacity. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Game


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 5-8 clean, empty plastic containers marked by capacity in fluid ounces (e.g., containers that held food, acrylic paint, shampoo). Containers should be different sizes and shapes.
  • Permanent marker
  • Scrap paper and pencils


  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
      • Solid Geometry
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
      • Systems
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Games


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Mixing in Math


  • , © 2010, TERC, Inc., MA., 2010

Funding Source:

  • NSF, ESI-0406675 and DRL-0713537