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Mr. Acre

GAT 9A

1 March 2016

Messina - Zabel 1

Cuboctahedron

Eight triangular faces, six square faces, fourteen in all, the cuboctahedron is a unique

solid. Its faces are all regular shapes, but not all the shapes are the same. This is known as an

Archimedean solid. It is a semi regular polygon made of exactly two kinds of regular faces, in

the case of the cuboctahedron, square faces, and triangular faces. It also has twelve identical

vertices. At each vertice, four faces meet, two triangles, and two squares. The cuboctahedron is a

shape not seen too often, it is not a platonic solid, but it sure is a marvelous shape.

There are multiple methods to finding the side lengths, surface area, and volume. The

most efficient way to find the side lengths is to start with the base of a cube, and marking all the

midpoints. Then, when lines are drawn from midpoint to midpoint of a face that is connected by

a vertex, the line segment that connects them will be the side length of the cuboctahedron.

Remember, the surface area of a 3-dimensional figure is the sum of the area of all the faces, and

the volume of a 3-dimensional figure is the amount of space it takes up. In the case of this

Messina - Zabel 2

The figure above shows how to find the side length of the cuboctahedron. Notice that the

blue line at the bottom is represented as “x,” in this case, x will equal 7.2 cm.

To find the side length, first look to the top right corner. It was found that the line marked

in red was half of the total side length because the lengths are connected at the midpoints of the

square. Understand that at the corner of the square there is a triangle with measures of 45-45-90,

this is a special right triangle. In the case of this triangle, both of the legs are always congruent,

and the hypotenuse is the same as one of the legs but it is just multiplied by √2. Then, the length

of 7.2 was multiplied by one half to find a leg of the special triangle. Finally, this length of 3.6

cm would be multiplied by √2 to find the final side length of the cuboctahedron; 3.6√2 cm.

This number will be the same side length for every face, including the triangular faces.

Messina - Zabel 3

The figure above shows how to find the side lengths that are needed to find the area of a

In an equilateral triangle, another special right triangle is found, a 30-60-90 right triangle.

In the 30-60-90, the side opposite the 30° angle is the short leg. Multiply the short leg by two,

and the product is the hypotenuse. Also, if the short leg is multiplied by √3, the product is the

other leg. Recall that the side length for the cuboctahedron is 1/2x√2, or in this case, 3.6√2. This

side length must be divided by two to find the short leg of the triangle. The length of the short

length would be found to be 1.8√2 (1/4x√2) using some simple division. Next, to find the long

leg of the triangle, the short leg must be multiplied by √3, because of the 30-60-90 special right

triangle property. The long leg of the triangle would be found to be 1.8√6(1/4x√2(√3) or

1/4x√6), shown by the orange line. This measurement, 1.8√6, is the final altitude to the triangular

Messina - Zabel 4

Now that the side lengths and altitudes are known for the two types of faces, the area for

x=7.2

Asq=(1/2x√2)2

Asq=(3.6√2)2

Asq=(3.6√2)(3.6√2)

Asq=12.96(√2)(√2)

Asq=12.96(√4)

Asq=12.96(2)

Asq=25.92 cm2

Atri=1/2(1/2x√2)(1/4x√6)

Atri=1/2(3.6√2)(1.8√6)

Atri=1.8√2(1.8√6)

Atri=3.24(√2)(√6)

Atri=3.24(√12)

Atri=3.24(2√3)

Atri=6.48√3 cm2

Atri=Area of the triangular face of the cuboctahedron

Figure 3. Finding the Areas of the Cuboctahedron’s Faces

Once the areas of the two faces are found, shown in the figure above, it is very simple to

find the total surface area of the entire cuboctahedron. The shape has a total of fourteen faces,

eight are triangular, and six are squares. Therefore, finding the TSA only involves some

multiplication. First, to find the surface area of the squares, the area of one square (25.92 cm2) is

multiplied by six to get 155.52 cm2. Next, to find the surface area of the triangles, the area of one

triangle (6.48√3 cm2) is multiplied by eight to get 51.84√3 cm2. Finally, these two numbers are

Messina - Zabel 5

added up to find the total surface area of the cuboctahedron; the sum of the two is

The first way to find the volume of the cuboctahedron is by taking a cube and cutting its

corners off at the midpoints of the edges. This is just one of three ways to find the volume. First,

the volume of the entire cube is to be found. Next, the volume of the corner pyramid that is to be

cut off is to be found. Then, the corner pyramid’s volume must be multiplied by eight to account

for all eight corners. Finally, the volume of all the corner pyramids will be subtracted from the

The figure above shows the dimensions of the cube, that will be used to find its volume.

To find its volume, the side length would just be multiplied by itself twice, or cubed. In this case,

the length, 7.2 cm, will be cubed to get 373.248 cm3. Now that the volume of the cube has been

Messina - Zabel 6

The figure above shows how to find the volume of the corner pyramid. The first sketch in

the top left is how the corner would look if it were not cut off yet. A small trick that will help big

is, if the pyramid’s lateral faces all meet at 90° angles, then flip the pyramid on a lateral face and

use a lateral edge as the height. In the sketches, the blue figures represent what will be used as

the base, and the red edge will be used as the height (3.6 cm). The sketch on the right shows the

pyramid on its side so that it is easier to find its volume. The sketch in the lower left shows the

dimensions of the base so it’s area is ready to be found. Using the formulas A=1/2(b)(h) (area of

a triangle), and the formula V=1/3(Abase)(Hpyramid) (volume of a pyramid), the volume of the

Messina - Zabel 7

x=7.2

1/2x=lateral face of pyramid

1/2x=3.6

1/2x√2=side length of the cuboctahedron

1/2x√2=3.6√2

Abase=1/2(b)(h)

Abase=1/2(1/2x)(1/2x)

Abase=1/2(3.6)(3.6)

Abase=1.8(3.6)

Abase=6.48 cm2

Vpyramid=1/3(Abase)(Hpyramid)

Vpyramid=1/3(6.48)(3.6)

Vpyramid=2.16(3.6)

Vpyramid=7.776 cm3

Vpyramid=Volume of the corner pyramid

Figure 6. Math Behind Finding the Volume of the Corner Pyramid

Figure 6, above, shows the math behind finding the volume of the corner pyramid. It was

explained how to find the volume earlier; this demonstrates the math involved in this case.

Now that the volume of one corner pyramid has been found, it is very simple to find the

volume of just the cuboctahedron. First, we need to find the volume of all the corners. This will

be achieved by multiplying the volume of one times eight, for eight corners. 7.776✕8=62.208

cm3, this is the volume of all eight corners. Now the volume of the corners is to be subtracted

from the volume of the entire cube. 373.248−62.208=311.04 cm3, this is the final volume of the

cuboctahedron.

Messina - Zabel 8

In the next case, a new way to find the volume of the cuboctahedron is demonstrated.

This way of finding volume is by finding the volume of a right square prism with four

The figure above shows the dimensions of the right square prism from case #2. The

square highlighted in blue is the base, it is also one of the square faces on the cuboctahedron;

therefore, its side lengths are 3.6√2 cm. The height of this prism is 7.2 cm, because it goes all the

way through the center of the cuboctahedron, so the face opposite the base is another face of the

shape.

Messina - Zabel 9

The figure above shows the dimensions that are necessary for finding the volume of the

rectangular prism. The base, highlighted in blue, is 7.2 cm x 3.6√2 cm. This is because the base

has to match up with a lateral face of the right square prism. The triangle, highlighted in red, is a

guideline to find the height of the prism. Recall that the altitude of a triangular face is 1/4x√6, in

this case 1.8√6 cm. The base of the triangle is 3.6, because that leg goes halfway across the

longer side of the base. To find the height, the pythagorean theorem must be used to find b, or

the height. To find b, the formula must be changed to c2−a2=b2. Plug in the numbers,

1.8√62−3.62=b2. This will simplify to 19.44−12.96=b2. Subtract and it will be found that b2=6.48,

take the square root and it will be found that the height of the prism is 2.54558 cm.

Now that the numbers necessary for volume have been found, the volumes of the right

square prism and rectangular prism can be found. The formulas, V=(Abase)(Hprism) (volume of a

rectangular prism), and V=1/3(Abase)(Hpyramid) (volume of a pyramid), will be used to find the

Messina - Zabel 10

volume of the cuboctahedron. Note that the volume of the pyramid needs to be multiplied by

four, because there is one pyramid attached to each lateral face of the rectangular prism.

x=7.2

1/2x√2=side length of the cuboctahedron

1/2x√2=3.6√2

Vprism=(Abase)(Hprism)

Vprism=(3.6√2(3.6√2))(7.2)

Vprism=(12.96(√4))(7.2)

Vprism=(12.96(2))(7.2)

Vprism=(25.92)(7.2)

Vprism=186.624 cm3

Vpyramid=1/3(Abase)(Hprism)

Vpyramid=1/3(7.2(3.6√2))(2.54558)

Vpyramid=1/3(25.92√2)(2.54558)

Vpyramid=8.64√2(2.54558)

Vpyramid=21.9938√2 cm3

Vpyramid=volume of the pyramid

Figure 9. Finding the Volume of the Rectangular Prism and Pyramid

The figure above shows how to find the volume of the rectangular prism and pyramid in

case #2. The next step in finding the volume of the entire cuboctahedron is multiplying the

pyramid’s volume by four, then adding that to the volume of the rectangular prism. The volume

of the pyramid multiplied by four is 124.416 cm3. Add this to the volume of the rectangular

prism to get 311.04 cm3, this is the total volume of the cuboctahedron. Note that this is the exact

same volume that was found in case #1, where the corners of the cube were cut off.

Messina - Zabel 11

The third and final way to find the volume of the cuboctahedron is by finding the volume

of eight tetrahedrons and six regular square pyramids. The eight tetrahedrons represent the eight

triangular faces, and the six regular square pyramids represent the six square faces. Both the

tetrahedron and the pyramid have a vertex facing the center of the cuboctahedron, so that if the

eight tetrahedrons and six pyramids were put together, they would form a cuboctahedron.

Figure 10, above, shows the dimensions necessary for finding the height and volume of

the tetrahedron. Each side of the tetrahedron can be used as a base, because the sides are all the

same; in this example, the base is highlighted in blue, and its side lengths are all 3.6√2 cm. The

triangle highlighted in red, is a guideline that will be used to find the height of the tetrahedron.

The short leg of the right triangle 1.2√6 cm, because from the center of the base to a vertex is

two thirds of the triangle’s altitude. To find the height, the pythagorean theorem must be used.

This time, again, it will be to find b, or the height. So the formula will be altered to c2−a2=b2.

Messina - Zabel 12

Plug in the numbers now to find the height, 3.6√22−1.2√62=b2. Square the numbers to come up

with, 25.92−8.64=b2. Simplify, 17.28=b2, and take the square root to find that the height of the

The figure above shows the dimensions necessary for finding the height and volume of

the regular square pyramid. The base is highlighted in blue, and all of its side lengths are 3.6√2

cm. The triangle highlighted in red is a guideline for finding the height of the pyramid. Finding

the will yet again involve some pythagorean theorem, the formula will be altered to find b.

Recall that the altitude of the triangular face is 1.8√6, and will be used as the hypotenuse in the

red triangle. 1.8√62−1.8√22=b2, square the numbers to get 19.44−6.48=b2, subtract to get

12.96=b2, take the square root to get 3.6=b. Meaning, the final height of the regular square

Messina - Zabel 13

Since the dimensions necessary for finding volume have been found, the volume of one

tetrahedron and one pyramid can be solved for. After that, the volume for one tetrahedron will be

multiplied by eight to find the eight triangular faces, and the volume for one pyramid will be

x=7.2

1/2x√2=side length of the cuboctahedron

1/2x√2=3.6√2

Vtetra=1/3(Abase)(Hpyramid)

Vtetra=1/3(1/2(3.6√2)(1.8√6))(4.15692)

Vtetra=1/3(1.8√2(1.8√6))(4.15692)

Vtetra=1/3(11.2237)(4.15692)

Vtetra=3.74123(4.15692)

Vtetra=15.552 cm3

Vpyramid=1/3(Abase)(Hpyramid)

Vpyramid=1/3(3.6√2(3.6√2))(3.6)

Vpyramid=1/3(25.92)(3.6)

Vpyramid=8.64(3.6)

Vpyramid=31.104 cm3

Vpyramid=volume of the pyramid

Figure 12. Finding the Volume of the Tetrahedron and Regular Square Pyramid

The figure above shows how the volume of the tetrahedron and pyramid were found.

Next, the volume of the tetrahedron must be multiplied by eight, and the pyramid’s volume must

be multiplied by six. Then, the two must be added together to find the volume of the

cuboctahedron. The volume of one tetrahedron (15.552) times eight is 124.416 cm3, this is the

volume of all the tetrahedrons. The volume of one regular square pyramid (31.104) times six is

Messina - Zabel 14

186.624 cm3, this is the volume of all the regular square pyramids. Add the two together to find

In conclusion, it is found that in all three cases, the volume comes out the same. The cube

with its corners cut off, a right square prism with four rectangular pyramids attached on the

lateral faces, and eight tetrahedrons and six square pyramids; all having a volume of 311.04 cm3.

Although it may seem like a coincidence, it is just the opposite. If the same measurements are

kept through all three cases, the volumes will always be the same. This is simply because of the

fact that if the shapes were all combined in each case, it would make the same size

cuboctahedrons. For example, if the corners of a cube with side lengths of 7.2 cm were cut off, a

cuboctahedron would be left. Also, if four rectangular pyramids with the same measurements

were attached to a rectangular prism’s lateral faces, it would create the same cuboctahedron.

Once more, if eight tetrahedrons were put together with six regular square pyramids, the end

result will yet again be the same size cuboctahedron. During the process of constructing the

figures and solving the math behind the volume and surface area, there were very minimal

problems. The few that were encountered were mistakes such as imprecise folding, and running

out of room on paper while creating nets to cut out. On the math side of this project, only small

mistakes were made such as not being exact with a decimal, or making a silly mistake while

calculating a number for volume. Overall, the project has been very interesting and full of knew

knowledge about looking at a problem in other ways. This information can be very useful in the

near future when dealing with irregular shapes that fascinate the world, shapes such as the

cuboctahedron.

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