Lesson 11
Polyhedra and Nets
11.1: What are Polyhedra? (10 minutes)
Warmup
In this warmup, students analyze examples and counterexamples of polyhedra, observe their defining characteristics, and use their insights to sort objects into polyhedra and nonpolyhedra. They then start developing a working definition of polyhedron.
Prepare physical examples of polyhedra and nonpolyhedra for students to sort. These examples should be geometric figures rather than realworld objects such as shoe boxes or canisters. If such figures are not available, make some ahead of time using the nets in the blackline master.
As students work and discuss, notice those who can articulate defining features of a polyhedron. Invite them to share later.
Launch
Arrange students in groups of 3–4. Give students 1 minute of quiet time to study the examples and nonexamples in the task statement. Ask them to be ready to share at least one thing they notice and one thing they wonder. Give the class a minute to share some of their observations and questions.
Next, give each group a physical set of threedimensional figures. The set should include some familiar polyhedra, some unfamiliar ones, and some nonpolyhedra.
Ask groups to sort the figures into polyhedra and nonpolyhedra (the first question). If groups members disagree about whether a figure is a polyhedron, discuss the disagreements. When the group has come to an agreement, give them 2–3 minutes of quiet time to complete the second question.
Student Facing
Here are pictures that represent polyhedra:
Here are pictures that do not represent polyhedra:

Your teacher will give you some figures or objects. Sort them into polyhedra and nonpolyhedra.
 What features helped you distinguish the polyhedra from the other figures?
Student Response
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Activity Synthesis
Invite students to share the features that they believe characterize polyhedra. Record their responses for all to see. For each one, ask the class if they agree or disagree. If they generally agree, ask if there is anything they would add or elaborate to make the description clearer or more precise. If they disagree, ask for an explanation or a counterexample.
Students will have a chance to refine their definition of polyhedra later in the lesson—after exploring prisms and pyramids and learning about nets, so it is not important to compile a complete or precise set of descriptions or features.
Use a sample polyhedron or a diagram as shown here to introduce or reinforce the terminology surrounding polyhedra.
 The polygons that make up a polyhedron are called faces.
 The places where the sides of the faces meet are called edges.
 The “corners” are called vertices. (Clarify that the singular form is "vertex" and the plural form is "vertices.")
11.2: Prisms and Pyramids (30 minutes)
Activity
This activity serves two goals: to uncover the defining features of prisms and pyramids as well as to introduce nets as twodimensional representations of polyhedra.
Students first analyze prisms and pyramids and try to define their characteristics. Next, they learn about nets and think about the polygons needed to compose the nets of given prisms and pyramids. They then use their experience with the nets of prisms and pyramids to sharpen and refine their definitions of these polyhedra.
Ask students discuss the features of prisms and pyramids, encourage them to use the terms face, edge, and vertex (vertices) in their descriptions.
Adjust the timing of this activity to 15 minutes.
Tell students to skip the last question. Students will have time to practice using nets in the next activity.
Launch
Arrange students in groups of 3–4.
For the first question:
 Tell students that Polyhedra A–F are all prisms and Polyhedra P–S are all pyramids. (Display and pass around the prisms and pyramids in the task statement, if available.)
 Give students 2–3 minutes of quiet time for the first question and 2–3 minutes to discuss their observations in their groups. Ask them to pause for a class discussion before moving on.
 Solicit students' ideas about features that distinguish prisms and pyramids. Record students' responses in a two columns—one for prisms and the other for pyramids. It is not important that the lists are complete at this point.
Next, tell students that we are going to use nets to better understand prisms and pyramids. Explain that a net is a twodimensional representation of a polyhedron.
Display a cube assembled from the net provided in the blackline master for the warmup, as well as a cutout of an unfolded net (consider removing the flaps). Demonstrate how the net with squares could be folded and assembled into a cube, or use this book of digital applets, https://ggbm.at/rcu3Ka3j, created in GeoGebra by the GeoGebra DocuTeam. Point out how the number and the shape of the faces on the cube correspond to the number and the shape of the polygons in the net.
For the second question:
 Give groups a minute of quiet think time and a minute to discuss their response.
 To verify their answer, give each group one of the three nets from the first page of the blackline master. Ask them to try to assemble a triangular pyramid from their net.
 Invite groups to share with the class whether it can be done. Discuss why net 3 cannot be assembled into Pyramid P (two of the triangles would overlap).
For the last question, tell students that they will create a net of another prism or pyramid:
 Assign each group a prism or a pyramid from the task statement (except for Prism B and Pyramid P).
 Give each group a set of precut polygons from the last two pages of the blackline master.
 Tell students to choose the right kind and number of polygons that make up their polyhedron. Then, arrange the polygons so that, when taped and folded, the arrangement is a net and could be assembled into their prism or pyramid. Encourage them to think of more than one net, if possible.
Supports accessibility for: Visualspatial processing; Conceptual processing
Design Principle(s): Support sensemaking
Student Facing
 Here are some polyhedra called prisms.
Here are some polyhedra called pyramids.
 Look at the prisms. What are their characteristics or features?
 Look at the pyramids. What are their characteristics or features?
 Which of these nets can be folded into Pyramid P? Select all that apply.

Your teacher will give your group a set of polygons and assign a polyhedron.
 Decide which polygons are needed to compose your assigned polyhedron. List the polygons and how many of each are needed.

Arrange the cutouts into a net that, if taped and folded, can be assembled into the polyhedron. Sketch the net. If possible, find more than one way to arrange the polygons (show a different net for the same polyhedron).
Student Response
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Student Facing
Are you ready for more?
What is the smallest number of faces a polyhedron can possibly have? Explain how you know.
Student Response
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Activity Synthesis
Select groups to share their arrangements of polygons. If time permits and if possible, have students tape their polygons and fold the net to verify that it could be assembled into the intended polyhedron. Discuss:
 “What do the nets of prisms have in common?” (They all have rectangles. They have a pair of polygons that may not be rectangles.)
 “What do the nets of pyramids have in common?” (They all have triangles. They have one polygon that may not be a triangle.)
 “Is there only one possible net for a prism or a pyramid?” (No, the polygons can be arranged in different ways and still be assembled into the same prism or pyramid.)
Explain the following points about prisms and pyramids:
 A prism has two parallel, identical faces called bases and a set of rectangles connecting the bases.
 Prisms are named for the shape of the bases. For example, if the base of a prism is a pentagon, then the prism is called a “pentagonal prism.”
 A pyramid has one face called the base that can be any polygon and a set of faces that are all triangles. Each edge of the base is shared with an edge of a triangle. All of these triangles meet at a single vertex.
 Pyramids are named for the shape of their base. For example, if the base of a pyramid is a square, then the pyramid is called a “square pyramid.”
11.3: Using Nets to Find Surface Area (25 minutes)
Activity
In this activity, students cut and assemble nets into polyhedra and learn to use nets to find surface area. The presence of a grid supports students in their calculations. It also reinforces the idea of area as the number of unit squares in a region and the connection between area and surface area. Students apply what they learned earlier about areas of triangles and parallelograms to find surface area.
As students make calculations, monitor their processes. Note those who work systematically to find surface area (e.g., by organizing the measurements of each face, calculating the area of each face, and adding the areas together) and those who don't. Encourage students with disorganized or scattered work to take a more systematic approach. Demonstrate strategies such as labeling both the polygons on the net and portions of their work that pertain to those faces.
Also notice students who look for and use structure (MP7), for instance, by grouping certain polygons together and finding the area of the composite shape (e.g., a group of rectangles that have a common side length), or by identifying multiple copies of the same polygon and calculating the area once. Select them to share their work later.
Adjust the timing of this activity to 15 minutes.
As part of the launch, assign each group to one of the nets: A, B, or C. Tell the groups to follow the questions listed for their assigned net. For groups that complete their questions early, encourage them to find additional methods to get the surface area.
During the activity synthesis, select one group for each of the nets to share how the determined the surface area. After each group shares, invite other groups to share if they used a different method to find the surface area.
Launch
Arrange students in groups of 3. Give each group one of each net (A, B, and C), tape, and access to their geometry toolkits (especially scissors). Explain to students that they will cut some nets, assemble them into polyhedra, and calculate their surface areas. Remind students that the surface area of a threedimensional figure is the sum of the areas of all of its faces. Ask students to complete the first question before cutting anything.
Point out that the net has shaded and unshaded polygons. Explain that only the shaded polygons in the nets will show once the net is assembled. The unshaded polygons are “flaps” to make it easier to glue or tape the polygons together. They will get tucked behind the shaded polygons and are not really part of the polyhedron. Tell students that creasing along all of the lines first will make it easier to fold the net up and attach the various polygons together. A straightedge can be very helpful for making the creases.
Tell students that it is easy to miss or doublecount the area of a face when finding surface area. Ask them to think carefully about how to record their calculations to ensure that all faces are accounted for, correct measurements are used, and errors are minimized.
When students have completed their calculations, ask them to compare and discuss their work with another student with the same polyhedron.
Supports accessibility for: Visualspatial processing; Finemotor skills
Student Facing

Name the polyhedron that each net would form when assembled.
 Your teacher will give you the nets of three polyhedra. Cut out the nets and assemble the threedimensional shapes.
 Find the surface area of each polyhedron. Explain your reasoning clearly.
Student Response
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Student Facing
Are you ready for more?

For each net, decide if it can be assembled into a rectangular prism.

For each net, decide if it can be folded into a triangular prism.
Student Response
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Anticipated Misconceptions
If students do not identity the specific type of prism or pyramid, remind them that they should also name each figure by the shape of their base.
Activity Synthesis
For each polyhedron, select at least 2 students with correct calculations but different approaches to share their work, if possible.
For Polyhedron A, select students who took the following approaches, in this sequence:
 Found the area of each rectangle separately
 Found the areas of pairs of identical rectangles (3 pairs total)
 Calculated the area of a group of connected rectangles with the same length or width (e.g., the four rectangles on the net with side length 6 units)
For Polyhedron B, select students who:
 Found the area of each of the 5 polygons separately
 Found the area of the square, rearranged the 4 triangles into 2 parallelograms, and calculated the area of each parallelogram
 Calculated the area of the square and the area of 1 triangle, and multiplying the area of the triangle by 4
For Polyhedron C, select students who:
 Found the area of each of the 5 polygons separately
 Rearranged the 2 right triangles into a rectangle, and then found the area of each rectangle separately
 Calculated the area of each right triangle and doubled it, and found the area of the group of connected rectangles with a width of 4 units
Point out that the reasoning strategies we used earlier in the unit still apply here. Even though we are working with threedimensional figures, surface area is a twodimensional measure.
Highlight the benefits of approaching the problems systematically, e.g., by labeling parts, listing measurements and computations in order, etc.
Design Principle(s): Optimize output (for explanation)
Lesson Synthesis
Lesson Synthesis
Review the features of prisms and pyramids by selecting 1–2 polyhedra used in the warmup. Ask students to explain (using the terminology they learned, if possible) why each one is or is not a prism or a pyramid. If it is a prism or pyramid, ask students to name it.
Revisit the working definition of polyhedra generated earlier in the lesson and ask students to see if or how it might be refined. Ask if there is anything they should add, remove, or adjust given their work with prisms, pyramids, and nets.
Highlight these points about polyhedra. Ask students to illustrate each point using a figure or a net.
 A polyhedron is a threedimensional figure built from filledin polygons. We call the polygons faces. (The plural of polyhedron is polyhedra.)
 All edges of polygons meet another polygon along a complete edge.
 Each polygon meets one and only one polygon on each of the edges.
 The polygons enclose a threedimensional region.
Consider displaying in a visible place the key ideas from students' list and from this discussion so that they can serve as a reference later.
To reinforce the idea of surface area, ask:
 “How do we use a net to find surface area?” (We calculate the area of each polygon on the net and add all the areas.)
 “Are there ways to simplify the calculations? Or is it best to find the area of each polygon one at a time?” (Sometimes we can simplify the process by combining polygons and finding the area of the combined region—for example, a group of rectangles with the same side length. If there are several polygons that are identical, we can find the area of one polygon and multiply it by the number of identical polygons in the net.)
11.4: Cooldown  Unfolded (5 minutes)
CoolDown
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Student Lesson Summary
Student Facing
A prism is a type of polyhedron with two identical faces that are parallel to each other and that are called bases. The bases are connected by a set of rectangles (or sometimes parallelograms). A prism is named for the shape of its bases. For example, if the base is a pentagon, then it is called a “pentagonal prism.”
A net is a twodimensional representation of a polyhedron. It is composed of polygons that form the faces of a polyhedron. A net of a prism has two copies of the polygon that is the base. The rest of the polygons are rectangles. A pentagonal prism and its net are shown here.
A pyramid is a type of polyhedron that has one special face called the base. All of the other faces are triangles that all meet at a single vertex. A pyramid is named for the shape of its base. For example, if the base is a pentagon, then it is called a “pentagonal pyramid.”
A net of a pyramid has one polygon that is the base. The rest of the polygons are triangles. A pentagonal pyramid and its net are shown here.
Because a net shows all the faces of a polyhedron, we can use it to find its surface area. For instance, the net of a rectangular prism shows three pairs of rectangles: 4 units by 2 units, 3 units by 2 units, and 4 units by 3 units. The surface area of the rectangular prism is 52 square units because \(8+8+6+6+12+12=52\).