Recently, we did a project centered around real-world applications of volume. Originally, I had a building a town project, but with some student input and serious parental support (+ access to a kitchen), we turned to baking.

We started with pan volumes. Students chose one of three quick bread recipes - pumpkin bread, corn bread or lemon bread.  The quantity output for each recipe was 1 loaf pan.  We weren't using a traditional loaf pans, but we had a variety of pan sizes. The challenge was to figure out the quantity of the recipe we needed to fit in other sizes of pans such as muffin cups or mini-loaves.

This problem had it all - problem solving, fractions, volume, of course, and some students even used percentages. In true problem-based learning style, I gave no directions how to solve.  I was simply the guide and support.

The students were pretty clever in the steps they took.  And of course, all this could be solved without mixing or baking anything, but the real fun was testing the calculations by making the recipes and pouring into the pans.

The next project was cakes. Everyone started with an 8" round cake and could inscribe any shape they wanted. The only caveat was they needed to be able to calculate the volume of the new cake, and the surface area of the top for frosting.  I was impressed with the different approaches students took.

To make this hexagon a student used a technique using the radius of the circle that the student read about in a Murderous Math book.

This star was made by calculating the circumference, dividing the circumference into 6 parts to get the distance of the arc and then cutting a string to the length and marking points.

After the templates were created, volume calculations were attended to before cake time. The students used the templates to cut their cakes and then we had a little fun with surface area decorating.

All in all great fun and tons of learning. We did some other projects, too with area and other shapes such as cylinders.

Ultimately, this project turned into the Monster Bake-Off which added a little more challenge.