Several studies, such as “Seeing and feeling volumes: The influence of shape on volume perception”, have shown that people have a tendency to overestimate the volume of common objects, such as glasses and containers, that are tall and thin and underestimate those that are short and wide; this phenomenon is called “elongation bias”. 


Sue Palmberg, an instructor at Edwin O. Smith High School, created and shared with us a lab activity for students to design a glass in Maple and use volumes of revolution to determine the amount of liquid it can hold. This lab was then turned into this Maple Learn document: Piecewise Volumes of Revolution Activity.


Use this document to create your own glass or goblet shape and determine its volume. Simply create a piecewise function that will define the outside shape of your glass between your chosen bounds and another piecewise function to define the hollowed-out part of your creation. The document will graph the volumes of revolution that represent your glass and calculate the relevant volume integral for you.


Here is my own goblet-shaped creation: 

I used this piecewise function to define it:

After creating the outline of my goblet, I constructed a function for the hollow part of the goblet – the part that can actually hold liquid.



Using Context Panel operations and the volume integral provided by the document, I know that the volume of the hollow part of my goblet is approximately 63.5, so my goblet would hold around 63.5 units3 of liquid when full.

Create your own goblets of varying shapes and see if their volumes surprise you; elongation bias can be tricky! For some extra help, check out the Piecewise Functions and Plots and Solids of Revolution - Volume Derivation documents!

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