One of the topics I have been covering is surface area. I have discovered that most of my students have issues with understanding it and understanding scale. One project I have had students in the past is to design their dream bedroom. They were to draw a floor plan, the walls, and ceiling with all lights, windows, and doors marked in. Many of my students took it a step further by adding in the furniture. The problem came with furniture and windows that were out of proportion with the scale for the room. The surface area comes in when they add the cost of flooring, wall covering, and ceiling up to get a total cost for finishing the bedroom. I found a nice app called room planner which allows students to create a floor plan, add windows, doors, and furnishings and view it in 3-D. I think having a 3D view will help students "see" their dream room better.
In reality, this is really the only type of surface area that most of my students will use in their lives. I know very few folks who need to find the surface area of a pyramid, or cone or other shape like that. I am writing this in the airport as I wait for my connection in a couple of hours.
I hope to revisit the volume app in a couple of days.