Lesson 14

Surface Area of Right Prisms

Lesson Narrative

In grade 6, students used nets made up of rectangles and triangles to find the surface area of three-dimensional figures. In this lesson they find surface areas of prisms, and see that structure of a prism allows for shortcuts in adding up the areas of the faces. They see that if the prism is sitting on its base, then the vertical sides can be unfolded into a single rectangle whose height is the height of the prism and whose length is the perimeter of the base. The purpose of the lesson is not to come up with a formula for the surface area of a prism, but to help students see and make use of the structure of the prism to find surface area efficiently (MP7). 

Learning Goals

Teacher Facing

  • Calculate the surface area of a prism, and explain (in writing) the solution method.
  • Comprehend that surface area and volume are two different attributes of three-dimensional objects and are measured in different units.
  • Interpret different methods for calculating the surface area of a prism, and evaluate (orally and in writing) their usefulness.

Student Facing

Let’s look at the surface area of prisms. 

Required Preparation

Assemble the net from the blackline master to make a prism with a base in the shape of a plus sign. Make sure to print the blackline master at 100% scale so the dimensions are accurate. This prism will be used for both the warm-up and the following activity.

A photo of a 3-dimensional figure construction.

Learning Targets

Student Facing

  • I can find and use shortcuts when calculating the surface area of a prism.
  • I can picture the net of a prism to help me calculate its surface area.

CCSS Standards

Building On


Building Towards

Glossary Entries

  • surface area

    The surface area of a polyhedron is the number of square units that covers all the faces of the polyhedron, without any gaps or overlaps.

    For example, if the faces of a cube each have an area of 9 cm2, then the surface area of the cube is \(6 \boldcdot 9\), or 54 cm2.

Print Formatted Materials

Teachers with a valid work email address can click here to register or sign in for free access to Cool Down, Teacher Guide, and PowerPoint materials.

Student Task Statements pdf docx
Cumulative Practice Problem Set pdf docx
Cool Down Log In
Teacher Guide Log In
Teacher Presentation Materials pdf docx
Blackline Masters zip

Additional Resources

Google Slides Log In
PowerPoint Slides Log In