Surface Area of a Cylinder "Dissection" Investigation Activity

Math Giraffe
Grade Levels
6th - 8th
Formats Included
  • PDF
5 plus answer keys
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Math Giraffe


This activity is a fun way for students to learn the concepts behind finding surface area for cylinders. The students work in pairs and “dissect” the cylinder to see the net. As they work, they record measurements and observations.

The students discover that the length of the rectangle is actually equal to the circumference of the two congruent circles. They are then led step-by-step to find the total area of the cylinder’s “skin.” Students must be able to find the area and circumference of a circle.

The activity is followed up with exit tickets and a practice sheet that can be used as classwork or homework after the activity.

Here is what's included:
- Two page dissection activity (option of color or black and white)
- Cylinder net (must be assembled)
- Exit ticket
- Practice worksheet
- Teacher directions and answer keys

To make the activity even more fun, set up the tables like a science dissection lab – Styrofoam trays, tweezers, and sewing scissors work perfectly. Set out some push pins and let students pin the paper to the tray to flatten out the net. The lesson will be memorable, and they will remember what students tend to forget: The length of the rectangle is equal to the circumference of the circle!

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Total Pages
5 plus answer keys
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
40 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Know the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle and use them to solve problems; give an informal derivation of the relationship between the circumference and area of a circle.


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