Maths: Years 5 And 6 Pump Up The Volume


Children in Years 5 and 6 at Bede's Prep have been studying the at times baffling topic of Volume recently, starting off with a very concrete and informal questions such as, “Can you make a cube with 12 ‘smaller cubes’?” or “Can you make a cuboid with 12 ‘smaller cubes’?”

Sure enough, the children busily tried hard to make a cube using twelve ‘smaller cubes’ and found that it was impossible.


A discussion erupted about what made a cube different from a cuboid and, after a couple of lessons, the children became very efficient at working out how many centimetre cubes fit different sizes of container.

That brought us to the heart of the matter: how many metre cubes did they think could fit into my classroom?

Volume can be a difficult concept for children to understand purely by looking at pictures, so we decided to make our own metre-squared cubes and open up further discussion based around this.


The children expertly created the cubes and were amazed at the actual size and that most of them could fit inside one!

Once finally created, the students quickly estimated the size of the classroom with ease and moved onto a final Challenge Question: How many centimetre cubes fit into a metre cube?

With the aid of the concrete object in front of them, and armed with their prior knowledge of using centimetre cubes, the children quickly moved past the widely used misconception that you would multiply 1m2 x 100 to get 100cm2.


As most children could visualise and generalise that one hundred of the ‘smaller cubes’ would not even come close to filling the metre cube, they quickly realised that it would be more beneficial to convert each dimension into centimetres first (width is 100cm, length is 100cm and height is 100cm) to give a total volume of 1,000,000cm2.

Most importantly, the children were very clear with their explanations of how they tackled their tasks and now seem more than ready for my next challenges - all of which will revolve around volumes of liquid.


What could possibly go wrong?


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