ECHO Science Spotlight: Explore Surface Area!

When you look at a rubix cube you will see 6 sides. The surface area of this cube is the total area of all of those 6 sides. Surface area is one way of explaining how large a three dimensional object is. Try this easy experiment at home to see how you can change the surface area of an index card with only a pair of scissors.

Materials: index card, scissors

Directions: Take the card and fold it in half the long way. Start at the fold and cut one cm from the edge of the paper, be careful not to cut all the way through. Repeat this process on both sides. Unfold the card and cut along the crease but don’t cut the slits you created in the last step. Fold the note card again and start making a cut one cm from the edge. Turn the note card over and make a cut going in the opposite direction one cm from the first cut. Alternate this pattern the length of the index card. Again, be careful not to cut all the way through. Now carefully unfold and open the index card into a circle.

Cut an index card in this pattern to stretch out the surface area!

How it works: A 3 in. x 5 in. index card may seem small but it has a total surface area of 15 square inches. By cutting the index card in the above pattern, you are redistributing the surface area.

Want more? What happens when you make cuts that are closer together? Email info@echovermont.org and let us know what you learn!

Carlie Wright is the education programs coordinator at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. The center, which works to engage families in the joy of scientific discovery, partnered with the Burlington Free Press to publish this feature.