STEM Designing a Box Using Volume Challenge

Rated 4.91 out of 5, based on 178 reviews
178 Ratings
Teachers Are Terrific
Grade Levels
4th - 6th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
31 pages
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What educators are saying

My students loved this activity. Anytime they can get their hands on materials and be creative the engagement level increases!


If you are ready for a highly engaging STEM activity, this Designing Boxes Challenge is for you! Students will investigate volume and learn to calculate surface area in preparation for design a cereal box.

What is the challenge?

  • Students will use cereal boxes and have great discussions about the appearance of the boxes, as well as how much a box contains.
  • They will learn about volume and surface area through weighing and measurement tasks.
  • Finally, they will take all the things they have learned and design a box.
  • Each box begins with the same size poster board, but which box will end up having the greatest volume? Can the students apply what they have learned?

NOTE: This resource includes two versions of the activity. Version 1 will take 3-4 class sessions. Version 2 is a quicker challenge and will take 2 class sessions.


Specifics of this version:

  • Students brainstorm about cereal boxes and learn about special symbols found on products.
  • They will investigate volume by using a filler material to test the different amounts a box can hold. The Math that takes place is so much fun!
  • Students will measure and calculate the volume and surface area of their boxes.
  • Students will be given a piece of poster board and challenged to apply what they have learned about creating the largest volume.

NOTE: The entire experience will take 3-4 class sessions to complete.

What is Your Prep for Version 1?

  • You will need supplies in addition to this package. empty cereal boxes - in a variety of sizes, Poster board- cut in half, masking tape, rulers, scissors, clear tape, glue sticks, Art supplies for drawing and coloring, Packing peanuts, Digital scale, and Calculators.

Version 2:

Specifics of this version:

  • This version uses the same great idea of creating a new type of cereal and designing the packaging.
  • The background information and the experiments about volume are not part of version 2.
  • Instead, students get busy designing the cereal boxes quickly and they can finish this in two sessions.

What is Your Prep for Version 2?

  • Materials for version 2 include poster board, masking tape, rulers, glue sticks, and scrap paper.

This resource specifically contains:

  • Cover sheet
  • Table of Contents
  • Overview and Materials page
  • Version 1 - 9 pages of step-by-step procedures and helpful hints for each step of the design process and lessons
  • 3 pages of photos
  • 2 Reading Selections
  • 3-page Lab Sheet set
  • Constraints of the Task Sheet
  • Things to Do While Working in Groups sheet
  • 3-page scoring rubric
  • Version 2 - 3-page teacher's guide
  • Criteria page
  • Lab Sheet
  • Scoring Rubric
  • Photos
  • Forms are editable

No matter which version or combination of the two versions you choose, your students will love creating a new cereal and designing the packaging!


You might also like these STEM Activity sets:


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Total Pages
31 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Apply the formulas ๐˜ = ๐˜ญ ร— ๐˜ธ ร— ๐˜ฉ and ๐˜ = ๐˜ฃ ร— ๐˜ฉ for rectangular prisms to find volumes of right rectangular prisms with whole-number edge lengths in the context of solving real world and mathematical problems.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.


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