Describe each shape as precisely as you can. Click on the applet and drag the mouse to show the object turning in 3D.
Here are a rectangular prism and a pyramid with the same base and same height. Drag the large red point up and down to move the plane through the solids.
If we slice each solid parallel to its base halfway up, what shape cross sections would we get? What is the same about the cross sections? What is different?
If we slice each solid parallel to its base near the top, what shape cross sections would we get? What is the same about the cross sections? What is different?
Describe the cross sections that would result from slicing each solid perpendicular to its base.
Use the applet to draw each cross section and describe it in words.
Here is an applet with a rectangular prism, 4 units by 2 units by 3 units.
- A plane cuts the prism parallel to the bottom and top faces.
- The plane moves up and cuts the prism at a different height.
- A vertical plane cuts the prism diagonally.
- A square pyramid has a base that is 4 units by 4 units. Its height is also 4 units.
- A plane cuts the pyramid parallel to the base.
- A vertical plane cuts the prism.
- A cube has an edge of length 4.
- A plane cuts off the corner of the cube.
- The plane moves farther from the corner and makes a cut through the middle of the cube.
When we slice a three-dimensional object, we expose new faces that are two dimensional. The two-dimensional face is a cross section. Many different cross sections are possible when slicing the same three-dimensional object.
Here are two peppers. One is sliced horizontally, and the other is sliced vertically, producing different cross sections.
The imprints of the slices represent the two-dimensional faces created by each slice.
It takes practice imagining what the cross section of a three-dimensional object will be for different slices. It helps to experiment and see for yourself what happens!
Practice Problems ▶
A cross section is the two-dimensional figure that is exposed by slicing a three-dimensional object.