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All the Prism Geometry Information
An Elementary Math Student Requires


When your child actually starts referring to shapes as prisms, they most probably have already studied two prisms unknown to them. The Cube and the Cuboid. The cube is a very special prism as all its faces are squares of equal size, and because of this, it is also referred to as a Platonic Solid. The cuboid is another name for a rectangular prism.

In this section I aim to cover everything your child needs to know about prism. I start with labelling the different parts of this shape, then offer the formula needed to calculate both the surface area and volume of a prism. The next section gives diagrams and names of the different prisms your child should be exposed to. If you require more detailed information about any of these geometric shapes, simply click on the 'More Details' button.

Definition of a Prism: It is a three dimensional shape made up of two identical polygons, joined by straight lines. A cross section of this shape will result in the exact shape of its two ends.

An important point to note here is that the ends are identical polygons. This means shapes composed of straight lines, so a CONE is NOT a prism.

Parts of a Prism

Knowing how to label the different parts of a prism is essential skill.

labeling a prism

Looking at the above image, you can see there are only three measurements to any prism, however there are also terms that your child should be familiar with from their study of 2d shapes also.
  • End: There are Two ends to a prism, both of which are identical in size and shape.
  • Vertex: The point where all the faces meet.
  • Length: The distance from the front face to the back face.
  • Breadth: ALso known as width. The distance from the left to right side of the front or back face.
  • Height: The perpendicular distance from the base to top.
  • Face: The sides of the prism.
  • Edge: The line where two or more faces meet.

Surface Area and Volume of a Prism

Surface Area
This is calculated by adding the area of each face to get the total surface area. Because of the different number of faces, and depending on whether the prism is regular or not, dictatates the formula. Get a more detailed surface area explanation here or explore each prism independantly bellow.
This is always calculated by multiplying the Area of the Base by the length of the prism. If you would like to read about this in more detail, read our volume of prism section.
volume of a prism

The Different Types of Prisms

There are as many different types of prisms, as there are polygons! A prism is named after the shape of its front and back face. Bellow, I have listed the most commonly studied prisms at the elementary level.

triangular prismtriangular prism
basic geometry
square prismsquare prism
basic geometry
rectangular prismrectangular pyramid
basic geometry
pentagonal prismpentagonal prism
basic geometry
hexagonal prismhexagonal prism
basic geometry
octagonal prismoctagonal prism
basic geometry

Regular and Irregular Prisms

Whether a Pyramid is Regular or Irregular is dictated by the type of Polygons it has as its front and back face.
Prisms created using a Regular Polygon as its front and back face is a Regular Prism.
An irregular Prism, is created by the use of irregular polygons as its front and back face.

Right and Oblique Prisms

This type of Prism is dictated by the vertices.
If the vertices of the front face are situated 90 degrees to their corresponding vertices of the back face, then it is a Right Prism
If the vertex is situated ANYWHERE other than at 90 degrees, then it is an Oblique Prism.

I hope you enjoy this section of my site. If you have any comments or suggestions, on how I can make this geometry resource better for you please don't hesitate to contact me.

Return from this Prism section and explore the other areas of 3d geometric shapes.
Return to our k6 geometric shapes home page to explore more great basic geometry

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