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Finding the Surface Area and Volume of Candy Project

Do your students know the surface area and volume formulas for many 3d shapes? Do they understand how these can be used and where there might be some differences between their mathematical solutions and actual data? For this project I have the students get into four groups. I hand out one candy item to each group and have them fill out the first page of the assignment. For volume of candy they will determine the diameter/radius, height and more in order to estimate the volume of all candies of that type. They will do the same for the wrapper size (ignoring the extra wrapper piece that may have been used to tie it over. I do all measurements with the item still wrapped if it is wrapped but this can easily be altered. 

Once groups have all of the candies completed for both surface area and volume, I hand out the containers. One to each group. They then find the surface area (paint) required for the item and the space that the object can contain (volume). Students will need to use the same units when measuring all objects (ex. centimeters). 

The third page has the student pick a candy and a container. They do the math to determine how many should fit (mathematically) and then ask for a bunch of that candy to see how many actually fit. I then put the formula for percent error up on the board and ask them to calculate their error. 

The last page asks them to wrap up their findings and make some conjectures about what they learned and saw. A sample answer key is provided which mostly contains the formulas needed for a given shape as any candy and any container can be used for this. I typically pick a cylinder, sphere, rectangular prism and a cone for both candy and container. 

⭐Skills Required:

  • Apply surface area and volume to different shapes
  • Analyze how the real world affects their results

❤️Resource is Great for:

  • Middle School
  • High School
  • Geometry
  • Summative Assessment
  • Projects
  • Percent error
  • Real life application
  • Surface Area and Volume applications


  • Printable PDF
  • Student charts and write up page for hypothesis and conclusion
  • 4 student pages
  • Sample Rubric (1-5 scale)
  • Terms of use