In this video, we’re going to look
at how to calculate the surface area of a prism.
Now, a prism remember is a
particular type of three-dimensional shape. It has the special property that if
you cut it at any point along its length, the face that you see is always
constant. It has what’s referred to as a
constant cross section. So, the examples on the screen
here, there’s a cube. If you cut that at any point in its
length, you will always see a square. A cuboid, if you cut that at any
point, you will see a rectangle. And the triangular prism, if you
cut that any point, you will see this triangular face here.
Now, what’s meant by the surface
area of a prism is the total area of all of the prism’s faces. So, you can also think of this in a
couple of different ways. The first perhaps as you can
imagine, if you were to wrap up one of these prisms, then it’ll be the exact area of
wrapping paper that you would need in order to cover all of its faces with no
overlaps and no gaps.
Or you can think of it as if you
were to unwrap one of these prisms and make it two-dimensional, then it’s the exact
area of card, for example, that you would need in order to create what we call the
net of the prism. So, the net is that the
two-dimensional template that you would create in order to then fold it up to build
one of these three-dimensional prisms. So, we’ll see how to calculate the
surface area prism for a couple of different types.
So, our first question asks us
to find the surface area of a cube with side length eight centimeters.
Now, we’ll answer this question
by thinking about the net of a cube. So, we need to think about what
are the different faces that this cube has. Now, a cube has six faces. And they’re all squares with
side length of eight centimeters. Now, there are lots of
different ways that you can arrange these six squares when you draw out the net
of a cube, but perhaps the most common one is to see them arranged in a sort of
cross shape, such as this one here. If you wanted, you could draw
out a net like this on a piece of card or paper and cut it out and then fold it
up and check that it does in fact fold back into that cube shape.
So, now, we know what the net
of the cube looks like. We just need to work out what
the area of this card would be. So, we’ve got six faces. And in the case of the cube,
they’re all exactly the same. So, we can just work out the
area of one and then multiply it by six. Now, each of these faces is a
square and the side length is eight centimeters, so the area of a square, we’re
gonna multiply eight by eight and that will give us 64 centimeters squared. So, that’s the area of each of
these square faces.
To work out the total surface
area then, we need to multiply this 64 by six. And then, that will give us an
answer of 384 centimeters squared. So, drawing out the net of
whichever prism we’re interested in is a really useful way of making sure we can
visualize all of the different faces that are involved and make sure we include
the areas of all of the faces in our calculations. Just a note about units, we are
looking at 3D shapes, but we’re thinking about unfolding them into
two-dimensional shapes. Therefore, the units are area
units, centimeters squared, millimeters squared, and so on.
Our next question is about a
cuboid, or a rectangular prism. And it asks us, find the
surface area of this cuboid below, which has dimensions of five, 12, and three
So, we could answer it like we
did the question of the cube. We could draw out the net of
this cuboid. But I’m actually going to
approach this one in a slightly different way. Rather than drawing out all of
the faces, I’m just going to picture the different faces that are involved. So, a cuboid also has six
faces, but unlike the cube, they’re not all the same because the measurements
are different. However, they do come in
pairs. And there are three pairs of
faces that we need to think about, the front and the back, which are the same as
each other, the top and the base, and then the left and the right.
So, I’m going to break this
calculation down into three stages where I find the areas of those three
pairs. So, I’m going to start with the
front and the back first of all. The front and the back are
rectangles and they have measurements of five millimeters and then three
millimeters for the height. So, as they’re rectangles, the
areas for those are just gonna be found by multiplying the three and the five
together. And as there are two of them,
I’m going to include a factor of two as well. So, this gives me a
contribution of 30 millimeters squared for the front and the back.
Next, I’m gonna think about the
top and the base of the cuboid, which are these faces that I’ve marked in
green. Now, they’re rectangles. And the measurements for the
top and the base are five millimeters and 12 millimeters, so to multiply those
two together. Then again, it’s the top and
the base. I have two of them, so I also
need to multiply that by two. So, that gives me a
contribution of 120 millimeters squared for the top and the base.
Lastly, I need to think about
the sides of the cuboid, so the left and the right. These are also rectangles, and
their measurements are 12 and three millimeters. So, I’m gonna multiply 12 by
three. And again, as in the case of
all the other pairs, there are two of them. So, I also need to double
that. And so, that gives me 72
millimeters squared for the two sides.
Final step then, I want the
total surface area. So, I need to add together
these areas that I’ve worked out, so 30 plus 120 plus 72. And that gives me a total
surface area for the whole cuboid of 222 millimeters squared. So, a quick recap of what we
did there, we looked at the three different pairs of faces that we had, the
front and the back, the top and the base, and then the two sides. And then, we worked out those
areas and added them all together. So, we had six faces included
in the calculation overall.
Our final question asks us to
find the surface area of the triangular prism shown.
So, looking at the diagram,
we’ve got a triangular prism. And it is a right-angled
triangle. We can see that from the label
in the diagram. So, you could draw out a full
net for the triangular prism or you could just carefully think about what are
the different faces that are involved. Now, you might want to take a
minute just to pause the video and visualize how many faces there are and what
shapes each of them are.
So, there are, in fact, five
faces on a triangular prism. There are the right-angled
triangles that we see at the front and the back, which are the same as each
other. There’s a rectangle on the flat
base of this prism. There’s another rectangle which
is this sort of face that we can’t see at the side of the prism. And then, there’s the sloping
side, which is also another rectangle. And we’ll need to think
carefully about the dimensions of each of these.
So, let’s start off with the
base. The base as I said is a
rectangle. And the dimensions of the base
are three meters and seven meters. So, to find the area of this
rectangular base, we’re just gonna multiply the three and the seven
together. So, that gives us 21 meters
squared as the contribution from the base.
Now, let’s think about the
triangular faces on the front and the back of this prism. So, for a triangle, we do the
base multiplied by the perpendicular height and then divide it by two. So, for these triangles, that
will be three times four divided by two. But then, as there are two of
them, the front and the back, we also need to multiply this by two. So, that division and
multiplication by two actually cancels itself out. And we’re left with 12 meters
squared as the contribution from the front and the back.
Now, let’s think about the
vertical face behind this prism. So, that’s the face sort of
round the side here that we can’t really see. So, this is also a
rectangle. And it’s got a height of four
here. And then, this dimension here
is seven meters. So, the area of this vertical
face then, it’s a rectangle, so four times seven, it’s gonna be 28 meters
So, that accounts for four of
the five faces. And the last one that we need
to think about is this sloping face here, the one that I’m marking in in purple
at the moment. Now, this is also a
rectangle. And we can see that one of its
dimensions is seven meters. But we need to think carefully
about what its other dimension is, so what this length here is. And in order to do that, we
need to look at the right-angled triangle that this length is part of, so the
right-angled triangle on the front of this triangular prism.
Now, you need to recall some
other work within mathematics. You need to recall the
Pythagorean theorem, which tells us how the lengths in a right-angled triangle
are related to each other. And if you remember, the
Pythagorean theorem tells us that, in a right-angled triangle, the square of the
hypotenuse, the longest side, so that is this red side here, is equal to the sum
of the squares of the two shorter sides. So, in this triangle, that’s
the three meters and the four meters.
So, I need to do a little bit
of working out. If I give this a letter,
perhaps the letter 𝑥, then I can write down what the Pythagorean theorem tells
me for this triangle. So, it tells me that 𝑥 squared
is equal to three squared plus four squared. Then, I can go through the
working out to evaluate what 𝑥 squared is equal to. So, three squared and four
squared are nine and 16, and when I add them together, I get 25. If I then take the square root,
that tells me that 𝑥 is equal to five.
Now, you may have been able to
spot that without actually doing any working out because three-four-five is an
example of a Pythagorean triple. That is, a right-angled
triangle where the lengths of the three sides are all integers. So, if you knew that, you may
have been able to take a little shortcut there. At anyway, we’ve worked out
that the length of this side is five meters. So, now, you just need to work
out the area of this final face.
So, I just work it out at the
bottom here. These little sketches are not
to scale by the way. So, sloping face with
measurements of seven meters and five meters, so its area will be seven
multiplied by five, so 35 meters squared for the area of that final sloping
face. Right, the final step in this
calculation then is I just need to add together the areas of all of these
faces. So, the total surface area
then, 21 plus 12 plus 28 plus 35, which gives me a final answer of 96 meters
squared, or square meters.
So, to summarize then, the surface
area of a prism is the total area of all of its faces. You need to make sure you account
for all of the faces. And you can either do that by
drawing out the net of the prism. Or you can just visualize the
different faces and the dimensions. Or perhaps you could sketch them
all out separately like we did in this example here.