How to learn about 3D shapes

Written by irene a. blake
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Three-dimensional (3D) shapes exist all around us---from a water bottle's cylindrical shape to the spherical shape of a basketball. Mathematically, humans study 3D shapes by measuring the length, width and height of each shape. Learning about 3D shapes---from the most common basic shapes (spheres, cubes, cylinders, cones and pyramids) to complex objects containing a mix of basic shapes---can help learners at any age level understand the importance of geometry in our lives.

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  1. 1

    Look at the world around you for examples of 3D shapes. Pick a shape and study its sides or "faces." Consider whether your 3D shape has uniform or symmetrical faces by measuring its length, width and height. For example, each face of a perfect cube is the same as every other in length, width and height.

  2. 2

    Refer to a mathematics book for lessons about 3D shapes for specific learning levels or age groups. Your school or local librarian can refer you to related mathematics texts that outline not only the basics of 3D shapes, but also more complex geometric studies.

  3. 3

    Go to an online learning site such as SEN Teacher (see Resources), which provides printable basic 3D models to study. Print the models and carefully cut out each shape with your scissors along the outer edge of the outlines. Build your 3D models by matching and taping the edges while folding sections wherever necessary.

  4. 4

    Study and build complex 3D multishape models. Hands-on interaction with complex 3D multishape models helps increase understanding of geometry and other mathematics concepts.

  5. 5

    Visit learning and education websites for additional study of 3D shapes. Many school websites provide mathematics lessons online for extra study. In addition, teacher resources websites provide lesson plans and interactive lessons for student exploration (for example, Annenberg Media's in the Resources section).

  6. 6

    Take a mathematics class to learn more about 3D shapes.

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