4. Investigating Volume

Student writing

Students consider how much space different objects take up. Great care is taken to ensure that they think three-dimensionally about volume. They soon recognize the limitation of sight for comparing volumes. Students are introduced to cubic centimeters as a standard unit of measure so that they are able to measure and compare volumes. In culmination, they measure the volume of same-sized cubes and order them on a volume line. The cubes all end up in the same place on the line providing explicit evidence that objects can have the same volume, but very different weights. This again creates awareness that some objects are heavy for size—a precursor to density, a concept to be addressed formally in 5th grade.


  1. What does it mean to take up space?
  2. How can centimeter cubes help us measure volume?
  3. Does changing the shape of an object change its volume?
  4. How can we describe our personal objects?

The Child and the Scientist

Concept Cartoon

Darwin from the Concept Cartoons

The Volume Concept Cartoon is typically used as a formative assessment after Investigating Volume 3