USA TODAY® Related Activities
USA TODAY Related Activities provides
activities related to the concept of the lesson as well as
up-to-date Snapshot data.
Can You Cover It?
Materials: calculator, string,
ruler, cylindrical food can, construction paper, sharp pencil
Work in pairs.
In this activity, you will make a paper covering for a food
can. Then you will use the Distributive Property to help you
find the amount of paper used for the can's "jacket."
Procedure for the Activity
Step 1 Get a cylindrical food can. Carefully trace
around the bottom and top of the can onto a sheet of construction
paper. Use a ruler to estimate the diameter of the circles,
record the measurements, and then cut out the circles.
Step 2 Wrap a string around the can and cut it carefully
so that the ends meet with no overlap. Measure and record
the length of the string. Measure the height of the can and
record this measurement. Make a rectangle to cover the sides
of the can. Use the measurements you recorded for the distance
and the height of the can. Check the fit of the cover for
Step 3 Find the area of the paper you used to cover
the can by using the information given below that you may
recall from other mathematics courses that you have taken.
Fact 1: The area of a circle can be found by squaring
the length of the radius and multiplying that sum by ,
which is about 3.14. A formula for the area is A =
or A = 3.14r2.
Fact 2: The distance around a circle is called the
circumference. The circumference can be found by multiplying
the length of the radius by 2 and then by .
A formula for the circumference is C = 2r
or C = 2(3.14)r.
Fact 3: The area of a rectangle is the product of the
length and width or A = lw.
Step 4 Write a single formula for the total area of
the paper used to cover the can. Combine the formulas in Step
3 such that total area = area of two circles + area of one
rectangle. Use A for area, r for radius, and
h for height of the cylinder.
Step 5 Use the Distributive Property to rewrite your
formula from Step 4. The formula should begin like this: A
Verify this formula by finding the area of the paper you used
to cover the can. Compare the area you found in Step 3 with
the area you found using this new formula.
Step 6 Explain which method you prefer for finding
the amount of paper for covering the can you chose.
Step 7 Suppose the cover for a can has an area of 50
square inches. Find one possible set of dimensions for the
Wrapping Up the Activity
Make a poster or other display showing your work for this
activity. Be creative. Consider decorating the cover you made
for the can. Be sure to show how you found the area of the
paper used for the can cover.