Josh's Jelly Beans' Box

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The purpose of this activity is to engage students in using volume/capacity calculations to solve a problem.

Achievement Objectives
GM4-1: Use appropriate scales, devices, and metric units for length, area, volume and capacity, weight (mass), temperature, angle, and time.
NA4-1: Use a range of multiplicative strategies when operating on whole numbers.
Description of Mathematics

To solve this problem, the students will need to calculate the capacity of a box from the dimensions given and to use this in order to solve a problem. The dimensions have been given in cm, so it is expected that the capacity will be found in cm³. The activity ideally follows exploration and learning in the following areas.

Click to show example questions for each heading

The activity should be sufficiently open ended to allow the students freedom of choice in their approach. It may be scaffolded with guidance that leads to a solution, and/or the students might be given the opportunity to solve the problem independently. The approach should be chosen in sympathy with their skills and preferred method of solution.


Josh has a box with dimensions 40 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm full of jelly beans.

To hide them from his sister, he needs to put them in the back of a cupboard where there is a space with a base area of 25 cm x 35 cm.

If he is to make a new box to fit all the jelly beans in, to hide them in this space, what is the minimum height this box should be?

The arithmetic approach  (show more)

  • The student is able to calculate the capacity of a box and to use this value to solve a problem to find an unknown height.

The conceptual approach  (show more)

  • The student is able to find a method of solution that will allow him/her to find an unknown dimension of a container, within the context and specifications given.
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Level Four