Investigating Surface Area/Volume ratio


side of cube






Investigating Surface Area/Volume ratio

Introductory Notes:

Surface Area to Volume Ratio


Side 2

Area of side

2x2 4



6x2x2 24

Area of



4x4 16

6x6 36

6x4x4 96

6x6x6 216

8x8 64 6x8x8 384

12x12 144 6x12x12 864

20x20 400 6x20x20 2400

Side 3 Volume

Ratio of Surface

Area to


3:1 2x2x2 8

4x4x4 64

6x6x6 216

8x8x8 512

12x12x12 1728




20x20x20 8000



So, if we double the side the area goes up by FOUR times ( 2 2 )

But the volume goes up by a factor of EIGHT times ( 2 3 )

So the ratio of surface area to volume is lower in a large animal than a smaller one.

Since heat is transferred at the surface, a small animal has greater potential for rapidly gaining and losing heat than a larger one because of its relatively large surface area.

A smaller animal also has greater relative potential for evaporative water loss through its greater area of skin.

Ground Squirrels have a LARGE Surface Area/Volume Ratio

They lose and gain heat rapidly. They live in burrows to keep them selves cool in the Summer heat, and warm in winter. The water requirements of the squirrel are supplied mainly by the food they eat.

(Photo taken in Arizona …in the shade …when the temperature was 110 C )

A polar Bear]

POLAR BEARS have a SMALL Surface Area/Volume Ratio

This helps it to survive in cold climates. This image was taken on a hot day

(San Diego Zoo) so it was obviously finding it difficult to keep cool! It used the cool water to increase the heat loss.

The jackrabbit has a large ears to increase its surface area to volume ratio

This jackrabbit is really struggling to keep cool in Arizona. It is sheltering from the intense heat, in shade. The large ears, with an extensive area of blood vessels, help it dissipate as much heat as possible.

Investigating Surface Area/Volume

In this investigation we will place equal volumes of hot water in different size beakers. This provides different surface areas….but the same volume


Obtain at least TWO different size beakers.

Place a given volume of hot water in one beaker.

Take the initial temperature of the water

Take the temperature of the water after 10 minutes

Calculate the surface area of the water

Repeat, using a different size beaker, and the same volume of water.

You only have to calculate the surface area. You measure the volume with a measuring cylinder (or beaker)

Results Table

Design …….your table.

You need at least TWO sets of results (different surface areas)

Quantities required:


Surface Area

Surface Area/Volume

Initial Temperature

Final Temperature

Temperature Drop

Units should be in each table,