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The Amazing Cubo

Adam Awada

Mr. Acre

GAT 9C

2 March 2017
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Cuboctahedron

Truncated cube, snub cube, icosidodecahedron, great rhombicosidodecahedron, and of

course who could forget, the truncated octahedron! These majestic figures may sound as if they

are from the future, dreamt up by someone like Gene Roddenberry, inaccessible to the people of

earth, but fret not, as this is not the case. These are all simply some of the 13 convex polyhedra

which make up the Archimedean solid family. All of the Archimedean solids have a similar

arrangement of two or more different types of nonintersecting regular convex polygons arranged

symmetrically around each vertex, each side having the same length. These 13 Archimedean

solids differ from their near cousins, the 5 Platonic solids described by Plato, in the fact that they

have two or more types of regular polygon on the surface, while each of the platonic solids are

only made up of a single kind. All of this may be fine and dandy to some, but there is one solid

which surpasses all, both Platonic and its Archimedean siblings. Its name? The cuboctahedron. A

cuboctahedron, also called the heptaparallelohedron, or a cubo, is one of the two Quasiregular

polyhedron, and has 14 faces. Of the 14, 6 are squares, and 8 are triangles. The traits that make

this solid stand out from the others are two things- the ways it can be created, and the even more

wonderful ways it is possible to calculate its surface area, volume, and side lengths, all of which

will be discussed later.

First of all, some basic understandings must be communicated to insure clarity. The

surface area is the total area of each face of the figure added together, while the volume is the

amount of “space” the object takes up in a 3-dimensional environment. The most effective way

of finding these numbers is first finding the side lengths of the cubo, then working off of that to

discover the other two figures. An easy way of finding the side lengths of the cubo to start off is

to draw in the midpoints of each side of a cube, then connect them. Then, the measurement of a
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line connecting two midpoints will equal one side of the cuboctahedron. In this case, the cube

will have an overall side length of 12 units.

Figure 1. Finding the Side Length of a Cuboctahedron

Figure 1 shows one method for finding the measurement of the side lengths of a

cuboctahedron. A single side of the overall cube is equal to x, as shown by the black line at the

bottom of the picture. As mentioned earlier, x will equal 12 units. The second black line on the

left side of the square is the segment which connects the midpoint of the line to the vertex.

Because the midpoint splits the line, this will equal ½ x, or in this case, 6 units. Now, using

previous knowledge of special right triangles, the side length of the cubo can be found. To do

this, simply use the 45-45-90 triangle rule, which is that while the two legs are congruent, the

hypotenuse will be equal to the measure of one of the legs multiplied by √2. This makes the final

measurement of the side length of ½ x√2, 6√2 units long in this case. As previously mentioned,
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each side of an Archimedean solid will be the same length, so it can be deducted that each side

length of the cubo, including the triangles and squares, will be 6√2 units.

Figure 2. Finding the Area of a Triangular Face of the Cuboctahedron

Figure 2 shows the necessary measurements for finding the area of one of the cubo’s

triangular faces. The pink highlighted segment on the right side of the triangle shows the

previous number gained from calculating the side length of the cubo, which is ½ x√2, or 6√2

units. For the next step, more knowledge of special triangle cases is needed, but now instead of

45-45-90, it will be 30-60-90 triangles. For 30-60-90 triangles, the hypotenuse is always twice

the size of the short leg. This means that the short leg, highlighted in pink at the bottom left of

the figure, will be ¼ x√2, or 3√2 units. In 30-60-90 triangles, the side opposite of the 60-degree
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angle is always the measure of the short leg multiplied by √3, making the long leg equal to ½

X= Side length of cube Asq = area of square face of cuboctahedron
X= 12 Atri = area of triangular face of cuboctahedron
Acub = area of cuboctahedron

Asq = (½ x√2)2 Atri = ½ (½ x√2)(¼ x√6)
Asq = (6√2)2 Atri = ½ (6√2)(3√6)
Asq = (6√2)(6√2) Atri = (3√2)(3√6)
Asq = 72 Atri = 18√3
Asq = (72)(6) Atri = (18√3)(8)
Asq = 432 units2 Atri = 144√3 units2

Acub = Asq + Atri
Acub = 432 + 144√3
Acub = 432 + 144√3 units2

x√6, or 3√6 units.

Now that the side lengths for both the triangular and square faces are known, the area of

the cubo can be calculated. To do this, follow the formulas found in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3. Finding the Surface Area of the Cuboctahedron

Because the side lengths of the two face types are already found, finding the area of the

cuboctahedron is an easy task to complete after some simple calculations, as shown in Figure 3,

above. To start off finding the surface area of the square faces of the cuboctahedron, start off with

the equation (½ x√2)2 and plug in the side length of 12 to the equation. After this is done, the area

of one square will equal out to be 72. Now, multiply 72 by 6 because there are 6 faces. Now, it is

found out that the area of square faces of the cubo is 432 units2. The next step to finding the

surface area of the cubo is the area of its triangular faces. As seen in figure 3, the first step to this

is to start with the equation ½ (½ x√2)(¼ x√6) and plug in x = 12. This will result in the number
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18√3 for the area of one triangle. Now, multiply this by 8 as that is how many triangles the cubo

has, equaling out to be 144√3 units2. After both the areas for square and triangular faces has been

calculated, simply add them together to get the total surface area of the cubo, as seen in the

bottom left hand corner of Figure 3. Finally, the area is made out to be 432 + 144√3 units2 for the

entire cubo.

Figure 4. Case 1, Corner Pyramids

Figure 4 shows the dimensions of the cube as well as 8 corner pyramids which are

created after connecting each of the midpoints of it. To find the volume of the cuboctahedron

using the first method with corner pyramids, first the dimensions of said pyramids must be

found. To do this, the length, width, and height of a corner pyramid must be discovered before

any other calculations can be done. As seen above, the length of each outside leg of the pyramid
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is equal to ½ x, or in this case, 6, because they are exactly half of a whole side of the cube. This

will be the height of the corner pyramid. Next, the length of the pyramid can be found using

previous knowledge of the cubo’s side length, as seen in Figures 1 and 2. This length will be ½

x√2, or 3√3 units. Now, to find the width of the pyramid, split the base in half to get 2 triangles,

as seen in Figure 5, below.

Figure 5. Finding Width and Volume of the Corner Pyramid

Figure 5, above, pictures how to find the width of the corner pyramid. After splitting the

base into two equal parts of ¼x√2, or 3√2 units, the equation b2=c2-a2 can be used to find w. Plug

in the variables to the equation and get b2= 62 - (3√2)2, which equals out to be b2= 27. To find w

after this, simply square 27 to get 3√3 units. The next step is to now find the volume of the

pyramid by using the equation L x W x H / 3. After plugging in the new-found variables, the
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equation 6√2 x 3√3 x 6 / 3 is formed, which can be solved for the volume of the pyramid. Now the

volume of one corner pyramid is found out to be 36 units3, which can be multiplied by 8 to

achieve the overall volume of the 8 corner pyramids that are cut off the cube to form a

cuboctahedron. To find the volume of this cubo, simply subtract 288√6 from the volume of the

cube. As the volume of the cube is 1728, found by multiplying L x W x H, which in this case was

12 x 12 x 12, the equation for the volume of the cubo is 1728 - 288. Overall, the volume of the

cubo is found out to be 1440 units3.

Figure 6. Case 2, Rectangular Prism and Rectangular Pyramid

Figure 6 pictures case 2 of 3 for finding the volume and constructing the net of a

cuboctahedron. To find the volume of the cubo using this method, first the volume of the

rectangular prism must be found using the formulas found in Figure 7, below.
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X= Side length of cube VP = Volume of prism
X= 12 Lp = Length of prism
Wp = Width of prism
Hp = Height of prism
Vp = Lp x Wp x Hp
Vp = ½ x√2 x ½ x√2 x 12
Vp = 6√2 x 6√2 x 12
Vp = 864
Vp = 864 units3
Figure 7. Finding Volume of the Rectangular Prism

Figure 7, above, shows the formula for finding the volume of a rectangular prism, and the

steps to solve for it. As can be seen in Figure 6, the length and width of the prism are equal

because the base is a square, and are each ½ x√2, or 6√2 units. The height of the prism is the

same as the side length of the cube, which is x, or 12 units. Substitute these numbers into the

equation Vp = Lp x Wp x Hp, as seen in the above figure. After doing this, the volume of the prism is

found out to be 864 units3. Now that the volume of the center prism has been found, the volume

of the rectangular pyramids must be calculated. Before doing this however, follow the steps as

seen in Figure 8, below, to find the height of the pyramids.

A = Short leg
C = Hypotenuse
B = Long leg

A = 3√2
C =6
B2= 62 - (3√2)2
B2 = 36-18
√B2 =√18
B =3√2 Height of pyramid = 3√2

Figure 8. How to Calculate the Height of a Rectangular Pyramid

Figure 8 shows how to find the height of the pyramid using the Pythagorean theorem.

After this is completed, the volume of the pyramids can be found using formulas, seen below.
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X= Side length of cube VP = Volume of pyramid
X= 12 Lp = Length of pyramid
Wp = Width of pyramid
Hp = Height of pyramid
Vp = Lp x Wp x Hp / 3
Vp = ½ x√2 x X x 3√2 / 3
Vp = 6√2 x 12 x 3√2 / 3
Vp = 432 / 3
Vp = 144
Vp = 144 units3
Figure 9. Finding Volume of the Rectangular Pyramids
As seen in figure 9, the volume of a rectangular pyramid can be easily calculated by

using the equation Vp = Lp x Wp x Hp / 3 and plugging the earlier calculated variables. Now that the

volume of one of the pyramids is found, multiply that number by 4, as that is how many

pyramids there are in the cubo. Doing this will result in the number 576 units3. To get the overall

volume of the cuboctahedron using this method, simply add together the volume of the

rectangular prism and the rectangular pyramids to get 1440 units3.

Figure 10. Case 3, Tetrahedron and Square Pyramid

Figure 10 pictures case 3 for finding the volume of a cuboctahedron, the tetrahedron and

square pyramid method. To find the volume of the cubo using this method, find the volume of
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X= Side of cube Vt = Volume of tetrahedron
X= 12 At = Edge of tetrahedron

Vt = A3 / 6√2
Vt = (½ x√2)3 / 6√2
Vt = 432√2 / 6√2
Vt = 72
Vt = 72 units3

the tetrahedron and multiply it by 8, then find the volume of the square pyramid and multiply it

by 6. After these two steps are completed, simply add the two numbers together to get the

volume of the cubo.

Figure 11. Finding Volume of the Tetrahedrons

X= Side of cube Vp = Volume of pyramid
X= 12 Ap= Edge of pyramid
Hp = Height of pyramid

Vp = (A2) (H/3)
Vp = (½ x√2)2(6/3)
Vp = (72) (2)
Vp = 144 units3

Figure 11 shows the steps to finding the volume of the tetrahedrons. To do this, simply

use the formula shown above, and plug in the side length of the tetrahedron, which is ½ x√2, or

6√2 units. After that, divide by 6√2, and the volume of the tetrahedron will be found. For this

however, it will be multiplied by 8 afterwards, because that is how many tetrahedrons are in the

cuboctahedron. The result of this is 576 units3.

Figure 12. Finding Volume of the Square Pyramids

Figure 12 shows how to find the volume of the pyramids through the equations shown.

Follow the steps and plug in both the edge length and height of the pyramid into the equation,

which is 6√2 units, and 6 units respectively. To find this height, simply use the 30-60-90 triangle
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rule on the side of the pyramid to find the slant height, then do the Pythagorean theorem. After

the volume of one pyramid is found to be 144 units3, multiply this by 6 because that is how many

pyramids there are. This will end up to be 864 units3. Finally, add the two volumes together to

get 1440 units3.

So, now that all of the cases have been explored, the results of volume for each can be

compared to make sure no mistakes were made. Take note that after this is completed, each of

the volumes for each case should be equivalent to each other, which for this cuboctahedron, is

1440 units3. Because of this equality between the cases, it is certain that there were no issues

with the mathematics used. As long as this is true, and the values are all indeed calculated

without error, the value for volume will always be the exact same for all three cases, even if side

lengths differ in other cuboctahedron constructions. This is because while each of the

constructions are completed in very different ways, they are all created using the same base cube

figure. Some possible errors that could have occurred in this project include human error with

mathematics, technological difficulties, or issues in construction. To avoid these errors, planning

ahead with previous nets or visuals to assist in calculations is key. All in all, the cuboctahedron

exhibits many qualities of beautiful symmetry and elegance which cannot be matched by other

shapes, even if they are in the same Archimedean family.