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Building A Box

We can do many things with a simple notecard. In this activity, we will use them to build boxes
of different sizes and to analyze the resulting volume and surface area.

1. Begin with your 4 by 6 inch notecard.


2. Cut out and remove squares of equal size from each corner.
3. Fold up the sides to build a box (a floor, 4 sides, but no top or lid).
4. What is the volume of your new box?
5. What is its surface area?
6. Use your data and your classmates’ to complete the table below:

Length of Height Length of Width of Volume of Surface


removed of box box box box in area of box
square in cubic (no lid) in
inches inches sq. inches
0 0 6 4 0

.25

.5

.75

1.25

1.5

1.75

7. Note that we cut out squares of lengths .25, .5, .75, 1, 1.25, 1.5, and 1.75 inches from
each corner but that many other square lengths (.6, 1.15, 1.8, etc.) are possible.
rr-mann@wiu.edu
8. According to your table, which square length results in the largest volume?

9. Describe the box formed from cutting out a square of length .25 and explain why it does
not provide much volume overall:

10. Describe the box formed from cutting out a square of length 1.75 and explain why it does
not provide much volume overall:

11. Determine a function that describes the volume (V) of the box in terms of the size (X)of
the square removed?
V(x) = ____________________

12. To the nearest hundredth of an inch, how large should your squares be to result in a box
with maximum volume and what would that maximum volume be?

13. Though the domain of your V(x) function is mathematically all real numbers, what is the
domain of this box problem given the context and the original notecard?

14. Determine a function that describes the surface area(A) of the box in terms of the size
(X)of the square removed?
A(x) = ____________________

15. Explain why technically a box form by removing squares of length 0 inches would have
to have the largest surface area:

16. Often it is important to get the most space (volume) from the least amount of material
(surface area) since the expenses depend upon the amount of material used. Add a
column to your table called Ratio and, for each x-value in the table, record the ratio of
volume to surface area for each particular box.

17. Determine a function that describes the Ratio (R) of the volume to surface area of the box
in terms of the size (X)of the square removed?
R(x) = ____________________

18. To the nearest hundredth of an inch, what size square should be removed to maximize
R(x) and what would the resulting ratio be?

19. So, if you wanted to make the ‘optimal’ box in terms of volume from material used, what
would be the dimensions of that box, its overall volume, and its surface area:

Height = ____________ length = ___________ width = _____________

Volume = ____________ Surface area = ______________ V/(SA) = _____________

20. Find the maximum volume possible for a box constructed in this way from a sheet of
cardboard measuring 40 inches by 60 inches:

rr-mann@wiu.edu