ALEX Lesson Plan


Popcorn - Bucket or Box?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Anita Forrest
System: Cullman City
School: Cullman Middle School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 26400


Popcorn - Bucket or Box?


In this exploration, students will apply their knowledge of finding volume and surface area of cylinders and rectangular prisms.  Students will make recommendations to the local movie theater after determining which package is cost effective.  Students will support their decision through a presentation.

This lesson plan was created by exemplary Alabama Math Teachers through the AMSTI project.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
MA2015 (6)
22. Find the volume of a right rectangular prism with fractional edge lengths by packing it with unit cubes of the appropriate unit fraction edge lengths, and show that the volume is the same as would be found by multiplying the edge lengths of the prism. Apply the formulas V = lwh and V = Bh to find volumes of right rectangular prisms with fractional edge lengths in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems. [6-G2]
MA2015 (7)
16. Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume, and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms. [7-G6]
MA2015 (8)
24. Know the formulas for the volumes of cones, cylinders, and spheres, and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems. [8-G9]

Local/National Standards:

NCTM Measurement Standards: Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement

NCTM Measurement Expectations:  Understand, select, and use units of appropriate size and type to measure angles, perimeter, area, surface area, and volume

Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements -develop strategies to determine the surface area and volume of selected prisms, pyramids, and cylinders;

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will compare a cylinder to a rectangular prism to see which holds more volume and which is more cost effective to manufacture.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will make presentations of cost effectiveness of the packaging chosen.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:


Graph paper

Poster paper

Markers/coloring pencils

Popcorn Worksheet

Popcorn Rubric


Technology Resources Needed:

Computer with Internet access

LCD projector


Teacher can review surface area and volume of cylinders and rectangular prisms using the surface area and volume tutorial



Tell the story of a local movie theater trying to decide on serving popcorn in a bucket or in a box.  Emphasize that the two types of packages will contain the same volume.  Show an example of a popcorn bucket (cylinder) and a popcorn box (rectangular prism) if you have them available.  If you don't have these resources available, you may view pictures on popcorn packaging website.  Question students as to how a decision would be made concerning which package to choose. 


Give students dimensions of cylinder (radius = 2 inches and height = 7 inches) and rectangular prism (length = 4 inches, width = 2 inches, and height = 11 inches).  Provide student with Popcorn Worksheet. You may also want to provide graph paper and calculators.  Have students recall how to determine surface area and volume of cylinders and rectangular prisms. Have students to round values to the nearest tenth.


Remind students that they must show work.  They will also have to explain their conclusion during presentation.


Give students dimensions of another cylinder and rectangular prism that will not have the same volume.  Ask students how they might compare the cost effectiveness of the two types of packages.  Students may also want to construct cylinders and rectangular prisms with the specified dimensions.  Students still struggling on the concept of finding surface area and volume may want to practice on interactive surface area and volume website.


Students will be evaluated on presentations.  Use Popcorn Rubric for evaluation.

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Assessment Strategies

Teacher may want to do individual assessment while working on projects. Students will be assessed on presentation of material using the Popcorn Rubric.


Give students a specific volume and see if they can come up with possible surface areas.  For example, a rectangular prism with a volume of 180 cubic units might have dimensions of 6 by 5 by 3 or 30 by 3 by 2.  How would these two different possibilities of dimension affect the surface area?

Some students may want to continue applying knowledge of surface area and volume to other types of solids such as cones, triangular prism, triangular pyramids, and rectangular pyramids.



Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.