Prism People – Activities

‘Make a robot entirely of prisms and explore their properties at the same time’

Do you know what a prism is? You will after this activity! Make a robot entirely out of different prisms. You must have at least one cuboid, one triangular prism, one cylinder and one hexagonal based prism! Of course there is nothing to stop you adding other different prisms to get some bonus points. Actually having to make the prisms should really help with understanding the fundamental properties of prisms. It should also help with thinking about the surface area of prisms by relating back to the nets required to make them. Once the robots are built and the winners are declared, there are some testing questions on the worksheet to help formalise the idea.


The task is explained on this Prism People task sheet. The second part of the activity is the Prism nets and surface area worksheet. There are some Prism People Teacher Notes as well.

Equipment & Material

This is obviously open to adaptation. I give students a roll of tape and a piece of A2 card per group. I then set students the challenge to use as much of the card as possible. It may pay to have some scissors handy as well.


  • The following gives a quick overview of the activity.
  • Prepare the resources needed, as outlined above.
  • Students are in groups and are given the task outline.
  • Show students the photo and video to help give them some ideas.
  • Keep a close watch on time!
  • Invite someone in to judge the finished robots.
  • In the next lesson, follow up with the Prism nets and surface areas task.


‘Re-create this dynamic animation to discover the mathematics behind it’

This is one of three activities, similar in nature, for exploring transformations. Mathematics has always been deeply dynamic and technology now allows us to explore mathematics through different dynamic scenarios. This activity is a great example of one such scenario. Without giving too much away, the aim of this activity is to watch the animation, figure out what mathematics is behind it and then re-create it! The structure is a beautifully simple bit of geometry made by combining and repeating some simple procedures. Once the animation is understood then it serves as an excellent tool for investigating and understanding how the mathematics behaves as certain parameters are changing.

Watch carefully what happens in the video! What changes? How does it change? What could be causing the change? How is the situation set up?

This activity requires the video embedded below, access to dynamic geometry software and the Kaleidoscope worksheet that helps students understand the activity and offers some extension. Teachers can have a go themselves and learn a little more about this activity with these notes Kaleidoscope. If students go on to make their own screencasts, the the following link may of use. Jing – Free Screencasting software.

Please see the bottom of the page for links to some similar related activities.

Here is the kaleidoscope animation! (no sound)


The following is a brief outline of the activity

  • Watch the animation and discuss what is happening and why it might be happening.
  • Using dynamic geometry, have a go at recreating the scenario.
  • Students finish recreating and testing their own scenarios and make their own screencasts.