Do you want your students BEGGING to come to math or asking you to stay in your classroom during lunch to work? Engage your students during your unit on Volume while also allowing them to show mastery of the standards with a hands-on, end-of unit summative assessment. Volumeville is a highly engaging, collaborative project that your kids will LOVE.
Some units/skills don’t lend themselves to project-based learning opportunities, but volume is unique. I wanted to give my students the opportunity to show what they know while also having the opportunity to work together and get creative (which most of you probably know can be a challenge in 5th grade math). That’s when I came up with VOLUMEVILLE.
What is Volumeville?
Volumeville is a hands-on (digital option also available) project that has students create a 3D community. They’re given specific criteria for buildings that must be included, along with other specifications. Using centimeter grid paper, kids form nets that can be folded and taped to create right rectangular prisms. Using the grid paper gives the prism a clearly visible length, width, and height. I usually purchase an ultra-thick poster/foam board for each group to use as a base for their buildings, which they decorate when their buildings are constructed and placed.
Students also create a slideshow to go along with their project in which there is a dedicated slide for each building. They add a photo of the building along with its dimensions and volume, kind of like a map key. For buildings that are not right rectangular prisms, but are composite figures, students provide the dimensions and volume for each rectangular prism in the figure and calculate the total additive volume.
I also pose an extra credit challenge or differentiate the project by telling students the total combined volume of Volumeville must be exactly 2,000 cubic cm. This is THE BEST addition to the project, especially for high-achievers. It forces students/groups to really think critically and plan out their buildings ahead of time. It encourages them to get creative in how they construct their buildings. Some have added spires to the tops of buildings that are a single cube in length and width, but various heights, to ensure that they meet the criteria if they’re slightly off from the required 2,000 cubic cm.
Volumeville gives students the opportunity to:
- show their understanding of volume measured in cubic units
- calculate volume using the formula V = l x w x h
- find the additive volume of composite figures
- work collaboratively with group members
- construct 3D objects creatively by forming various types of nets (paper version)
- incorporate technology (Slideshow of Volumeville Key and/or digital version of Volumeville)
You Should Try Volumeville With Your Students If You:
- want them to get excited about coming to math class
- are looking for a creative way to assess volume
- know your students enjoy or could benefit from collaborating with others
- have a period of time that can be dedicated to the project
Volumeville comes with a completely digital version. Instead of physically constructing their community, students will create each building using shape tools in Google Slides. A template is provided for them, or they can challenge themselves by creating and designing their own slides. For students who struggle with technology, directions for adding the prisms is included.
What’s Your Role as a Teacher?
As a teacher, Volumeville is a very hands-off project. Once you’ve clearly introduced the project and answered student questions, they typically take the lead with their group members and are so excited to work that you’ll likely end up being an enthusiastic observer.
I suggest creating groups of 3-4 students and depending on your class (you know them best!), you can either assign the groups or let them form their own groups.
Once the projects are complete, a clear and concise digital rubric is included that can be used for grading. Simply fill in the spreadsheet according to the criteria and the grade will automatically be calculated for you. It’s that simple!