Eighth-graders get hands-on math lesson

How do you calculate the volume of a penguin? Or a Christmas tree?

It may sound like a riddle, but in fact, it was part of a recent math lesson for Herkimer eighth-graders.

Math 8 students got a hands-on lesson in volume by designing their own 3D-printed creations. After learning about how to calculate the volume of shapes like cylinders, cones, spheres and rectangular prisms, students used the design app Tinkercad to combine these shapes into creative designs.

Student uses a Chromebook to design a 3D penguin

Some designs were abstract, like a sphere balanced on the point of a cone. Others resembled objects, like a penguin, a Christmas tree, or a semi truck. Once the designs were done, students used the formulas they had learned to calculate the volume of their object.

Once the students completed their designs, Mrs. McGraw sent the designs to the MakerBot 3D printer, where they were transformed into colorful plastic shapes.

Plastic shapes rest on a table with students in the background

The process of combining shapes into a new form helps students visualize the concept of volume, Mrs. McGraw explained.

“It makes it more real and more tangible to them, as opposed to just seeing it on paper,” she said. “When it’s something they can hold in their hands, it really helps them see how these shapes get pieced together.”

Herkimer logo