This STEM Cereal Box project is one of my personal favorites! It’s a 2-3 session challenge packed full of Math!
There are several ways you can add to the creativity of this project- with advertising, commercials, and performing- if you wish to expand the experience.
What is it all about? Keep reading and enjoy this project soon!
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This project is all about boxes! To be more specific it’s about:
- Exploring volume and determining the greatest volume of a box.
- Exploring the surface area of a box.
- Designing and creating a box with the greatest volume.
- Calculating the final volume of the box created.
- Decorating the box to be a brand new kind of cereal.
- Advertising the new product.
I know! That is a lot packed into one project and it is so much fun!
This activity begins with an exploration of volume. Students take a look at many different empty cereal boxes and try to place them in order based on the volume. To check their accuracy we fill each box with packing peanuts and then weigh the amounts each box held. Take a look at the photo above! It is clear that Crisp Rice has a greater volume than the other cereals.
TIP: We also talk about why some boxes have a greater volume. What you want students to notice is that a deeper box will have a greater volume.
TIP: We also talk about why the volumes of similar sized boxes might be slightly different. Packing peanuts will fill the spaces differently every time due to their funny shape. So, is this a true test of volume? Nope, and that is when we break out the calculators!
Students learn how to calculate volume by measuring the same cereal boxes that were just tested with packing peanuts. This determines exactly which boxes have the greatest volume. Most of the time this correlates with the packing peanut experiment pretty well.
Now, It’s time for the design challenge!
Each group is given some poster board- all the same size. Using that static piece of board the task is to design a cereal box that will have the greatest possible volume. Students will have also learned about all the items that are shown on a cereal box and they also add decorations to their boxes.
TIP: We complete this challenge in large groups! We have the box decorators, the math calculators, the box designers, and the marketing crew. The marketing crew designs advertising posters and writes a script for a television commercial for the cereal. You can see why this is a multi-day event!
Calculating the Final Volume
When the boxes are ready students measure and calculate the final volume and surface area of each. It is so interesting to see the sizes of the boxes and how different many of them turn out to be. We take everyone’s final numbers and create a class chart (above) to compare the numbers with what the actual boxes look like.
TIP: The student data sheet has tables they complete that walk them through the steps of calculating volume and surface area!
Decorating the New Cereal Box
Now, it’s time for the really fun part! Decorate those boxes with the name of the cereal and anything else that needs to be added to create the best cereal possible. Above you have the Grand Slammers. This team made tiny cereal pieces in the shape of baseballs and bats! The Weirdoes cereal was shown with a bowl and spoon the students made of scrap paper.
The Traffic-O’s cereal had such a clever cover design. And, of course, we had Neon Explosions that came with a limited edition toy! And there is always a cereal called STEM Flakes when we complete this cereal box project!
Our presentations of these boxes is a really fun day. Each team shares its box and poster ads and then performs a television commercial. I award the best marketed and well-presented new cereal with a contract to begin manufacturing the brand! (not really) #sofun
Click on any of the images to see more details about the Cereal Box Project and I have several more blog posts you would love: