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Cube in a Cube
This is a chance to take a glimpse at what it would be like to be an engineer. With just
eighteen pieces of paper and some simple origami instructions, an intricate work of art will be
created. Then comes the math: finding the surface area and volume of the figure. Now more
than ever, skills like building a figure and having the math to back it up are essential in everyday
life, and will continue to be in the future. Below, it will be explained how to create a cube in a
cube, step by step, and all of the math that goes along with it.

Figure 1. Step 1
To fold the pieces of paper for the inner cube, start with 6-inch by 6-inch origami paper.

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Figure 2. Step 2
Fold the piece of paper in half.

Figure 3. Step 3
Next, open up the paper, and fold the two sides to the fold line. At this point, the longer
side should still be 6 inches, but the shorter side should be 3 inches.

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Figure 4. Step 4
After that, turn the piece of paper over. Fold the bottom right corner up, so that it is even
with the top of the paper and fold the upper left corner down, so that it is even with the bottom of
the paper. The top and bottom of the piece of paper should be 3 inches, as well as the sides in the

middle. The outer edges on the left and right should be 3

2 inches.

Figure 5. Step 5
Finally, fold the corners to the middle. Every side should now be 1.5
Repeat steps 1-5 five more times.

2 inches.

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Figure 6. Step 6
To make the inner cube, start with six pieces of paper that were previously folded. At this

point, the sides of each piece of paper should be 1.5

2 inches.

Figure 7. Step 7
Put one edge inside the flap of a different piece of folded paper.

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Figure 8. Step 8
Take another piece of the folded paper and repeat the same step on the other side. Each

side of the square should still be 1.5

2 inches.

Figure 9. Step 9
Keep putting edges inside the flaps of other folded pieces of paper, adding new folded

pieces of paper as the cube progresses. At this point, every side should still be 1.5
long.

2 inches

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Figure 10. Step 10


Once all of the six folded pieces of paper are incorporated and the flaps are correctly
tucked into the open spaces, the cube should be complete. Since all that was done was putting
the edges of the folded pieces of paper into the flaps of other folded pieces of paper, the sides of

the cube are still 1.5

2 inches. All of the sides of the folded squares were 1.5 2 inches,

so it makes sense that when a triangle of a folded piece of paper is tucked into a flap of another

folded piece of paper, the length would still be 1.5

is 1.5

2 inches

2 inches, since the outside of the triangle

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Figure 11. Step 11


To fold the pieces of paper for the outer cube, start with a 6-inch by 6-inch piece of
origami paper.

Figure 12. Step 12


Fold the piece of paper in half.

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Figure 13. Step 13


Next, open up the paper, and fold the two sides to the fold line. The longer side should
still be 6 inches, but the shorter side should be 3 inches.

Figure 14. Step 14


After that, fold the upper right corner to the top of the paper and the lower left corner to

the bottom of the paper. The hypotenuse of the triangles is 1.5

2 inches and the legs of the

triangles are 1.5 inches. The entire side length of the shorter side is 3 inches and the entire side
length of the longer side is 6 inches.

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Figure 15. Step 15


Flip the paper over and fold the lower right corner to the top of the paper. The side

outlined in blue is 3

2 inches.

Figure 16. Step 16


Next, fold the upper left corner to the bottom of the paper. The sides outlined in red are 3

inches and the sides outlined in blue are 3

2 inches.

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Figure 17. Step 17


Finally, fold the piece of paper in half so that it looks like this. The inner edge is 1.5

2 inches and the outer edge is 3 2 inches. After that, the only step left to do is fold the
squares on the sides to make triangles with the color facing outwards. Repeat steps 1-17 eleven
more times.

Figure 6. Step 6

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To make the outer cube, start with the twelve pieces of paper that were previously folded.

At this point, the inner edge of every folded piece of paper should be 1.5

outer edge of every folded piece of paper should be 3

2 inches, and the

2 inches.

Figure 7. Step 7
Tuck an edge of one piece of paper under the flap of a different piece of paper as shown.

Figure 8. Step 8

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Tuck an edge of a new piece of paper under the flap of one of the already connected
pieces of paper. Repeat this same process once more to finish the first side of the outer cube.

The edges on the outside of the outer cube should still be 3

inside of the outer cube should still be1.5

2 inches, and the edges on the

2 inches.

Figure 9. Step 9
Next, tuck an edge of a new piece of paper under a flap on the corner so that the new
piece of paper is going downwards. Repeat this process for every corner, incorporating new
pieces of paper as the outer cube
progresses.

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Figure 10. Step 10


Continue tucking edges into the flaps to connect the final pieces of paper.

Figure 11. Step 11


Once all of the pieces of paper are connected, the outer cube should be complete, and the
inner cube should be able to go in and out of the outer cube. The outer edges of the outer cube

should still be 3

2 inches, and the inner edges should still be 1.5 2 inches.

Formula for the Surface Area of a Square

Side( s)2=Surface Area

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Formula for the Surface Area of a Cube

6 s2=Surface Area
2

Substitution Property of Equality

6 (3 2) =Surface Area
1082=Surface Area

Multiplication Property of Equality


Figure 12. Surface Area of the Outer Cube without Subtracting the Space

The figure above outlines the steps needed to solve for the surface area of the cube
without subtracting the space.
Formula for the Surface Area of a Square

Side (s)2=Surface Area

Formula for the Surface Area of a Cube

6 s2=Surface Area

Substitution Property of Equality

6 (1.5 2) =Surface Area

Multiplication Property of Equality

6 ( 4.5 )=Surface Area

Multiplication Property of Equality

27 inches =Surface Area

Figure 13. Surface Area of the Hole in the Outer Cube


The figure above shows the process used to solve for the surface area of the hole in the
outer cube.
Surface Area(SA) Formula for the Cube without the

OutercubeSAHoleSA=CubeSA

Space

Substitution Property of Equality

10827=OutercubeSA

Subtraction Property of Equality

81 inches2=OutercubeSA

Figure 14. Outer Cube Final Surface Area


The above figure demonstrates how to find the total surface area of the outer cube.

Formula for the Surface Area of a Square

Side(s)2=Surface Area

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Formula for the Surface Area of a Cube

6 s2=Surface Area

Substitution Property of Equality

6 (1.5 2) =Surface Area

Multiplication Property of Equality

6 ( 4.5 )=Surface Area

Multiplication Property of Equality

27 inches =Surface Area

Figure 15. Inside Cube Surface Area


The figure above shows how to find the surface area of the inside cube.
Total Surface Area Formula
Substitution Property of Equality
Addition Property of Equality

Inside Cube SA+ Outside Cube SA=Total Surface Area


27+81=Total Surface Area
2

108 inches =Total Surface Area

Figure 16. Cube Inside a Cube Total Surface Area


The figure above shows how to solve for the total surface area of the cube inside a cube.
Quite a few steps are necessary to find the surface area of the entire cube in a cube. Five
steps have to be completed, as well as all of the little steps incorporated in the big steps. First,
the surface of the outer cube without subtracting the space had to be found. Next, the surface
area of the hole in the outer cube was found. Then, the final surface area of the outer cube could
be found. After that, the surface area of the inside cube was found. Finally, the total surface area
of the cube inside a cube could be found. After all of the daunting steps were completed, the
total surface area ended up being 108inches2.
Formula for the Volume of a Cube

Side( s)3=Volume

Substitution Property of Equality

2
1.5

Multiplication Property of Equality


Symmetric Property of Equality
Figure 17. Solid Cube Volume

9.54=Volume
Volume=9.54 inches3

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The figure above shows how the volume of the solid cube was found.
Finding the volume of the inner cube was manageable and easy, as long as a few simple
steps were followed. The volume formula had to be followed, and the math had to be done
correctly. The volume formula is usually length width height, but since a cube has
equal sides, it could be simplified to side3.
Formula for Volume of a Cube

Side (s)3= Volume

Substitution Property of Equality

(3 2) = Volume

Multiplication Property of Equality


Symmetric Property of Equality

76.36 = Volume
3
Volume = 76.36 inches

Figure 18. Outer Cube Volume


The figure above shows how to find the volume of the outer cube.
V
Inner Cube =Total Volume

Formula for Total Volume(V)

V Outer Cube

Substitution Property of Equality

76.36 9.54=Total Volume

Subtraction Property of Equality

66.82=Total Volume

Symmetric Property of Equality

3
Total Volume= 66.82inches

Figure 19. Empty Space Total Volume


The figure above shows how to find the volume for the empty space of the cube.
Finding the volume of the empty space of the cube was very straightforward. The only necessary
step was to subtract the volume of the inner cube from the volume of the outer cube. As long as
the subtraction went smoothly, the total volume of the empty space should be correct. After
subtracting 9.54 from 76.36, the total volume of the empty space was uncovered (66.82inches3).
Over the course of this project, paper was folded and put together to make something
spectacular. A few math skills were utilized as well to find the volume and surface area of the
cube in a cube as if it were made perfectly. The first part; creating a cube in a cube, was

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especially exciting and interesting. Folding the paper was a breeze, and putting it together
wasnt difficult at all. The pictures of the cube in a cube that explain how to assemble it are from
the original cube in a cube that was made. The picture on the title page is of the final cube in a
cube that was made. Another one was made because the first one did not fit together that nicely
and the second one looked much better.
The math was relatively straightforward, as long as the steps were thorough and
precise. The volume of the empty space in the cube in a cube ended up being 66.82inches3 and
the surface area ended up being 108inches2. That is the volume and surface area of a cube in a
cube as if it were made perfectly. However, the cube in a cube that was made is not perfect and 5
7/8-inch paper was used rather than the 6-inch paper that was supposed to be used, so the surface
area and volume of the cube in a cube that was made is slightly different than 108inches2 and
66.82inches3. Anyway, the key was to set aside enough time for each individual task. This paper
seemed less and less daunting as each task was completed individually. This project honed many
skills, including geometry and creativity skills.