What Is the Shape of a Soup Can?

A typical soup can design forms a geometric shape known as a cylinder. A cylinder is defined as a three-dimensional shape that has two circular ends, or bases. Other examples of cylinders are drinking straws, pipes and the cardboard tubes in paper towels.

A cylinder is basically made up of two circles and a rectangle, so finding the areas of these three shapes and adding them together gives the surface area of the cylinder. The formula for the surface area is 2(pi)(r^2) + 2(pi)rh, where r is the radius of the circle and h is the height of the cylinder. The formula for the volume is (pi)(h)(r^2). Both of these calculations have been known since ancient times.