Surface area to volume ratio of cells

Students apply their understanding of surface areas and volumes of cuboids to cells. They start with an nrich problem that explores what happens to surface area and volume of cuboids as linear dimensions change. Discuss the surface area to volume ratio of cells, focusing on what happens across a cell membrane (see lecture notes for background). Students investigate the surface area to volume ratio for different cuboids and compare their findings with images of real cells.

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Overview of task

Students apply their understanding of surface areas and volumes of cuboids to cells. They start with an nrich problem that explores what happens to surface area and volume of cuboids as linear dimensions change. Discuss the surface area to volume ratio of cells, focusing on what happens across a cell membrane (see lecture notes for background). Students investigate the surface area to volume ratio for different cuboids and compare their findings with images of real cells.

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Strand

Number and measures

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Prior knowledge

Appreciation of area, volume, surface area of shapes. Some understanding of cells, their function and their structure is helpful. For further information see lecture notes (UCS Canada).

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Relevance to Core Maths qualifications

•AQA

•C&G

•Eduqas

•Pearson / Edexcel

•OCR

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Suggested approaches

Group work with opportunity for collaboration, discussion and debate. Initially, students may prefer to use mini whiteboards.

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Resources/documentation

Powerpoint containing links and images. Youtube clip showing application of ideas.

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Relevant digital technologies

Internet connectivity for sources.

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Possible extensions

Try shapes other than cuboids – consider their ability to pack, as well as the surface area to volume ratio.

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Acknowledgement

Developed by Emily Cooper at St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College.