Measuring Volume

Volume is a property of matter that describes the amount of three-dimensional space that an object occupies. Volume is often measured in cubic units, such as cubic centimeters (cm3), cubic inches (in3), cubic meters (m3), or cubic miles (mi3). A cubic centimeter is the three-dimensional space occupied by a cube that is 1 cm × 1 cm × 1 cm.

Other common units of volume include fluid ounces (fl oz), tablespoons (tbsp), quarts (qt), gallons (gal), barrels (bbl), liters (L), and milliliters (mL). 1 milliliter (mL) = 1 cubic centimeter (cm3). So an object that has a volume of 24 mL would occupy the same amount of three-dimensional space as twenty-four cubes each measuring 1 cm × 1 cm × 1 cm.

One way to measure the volume of an object, especially an irregularly shaped object, is by displacement. First, measure the volume of water in a graduated cylinder. Then, add your object to the graduated cylinder, making sure that it is completely submerged in the water. And finally, measure the new volume in the graduated cylinder. The increase in the volume (the amount of water that the object has “displaced”) is equal to the volume of the object itself. This is an indirect measurement since you are not measuring the volume of the object directly.