Slicing Fruit

Tom Hickson (University of St. Thomas) and Ilyse Resnick (Temple University)
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Initial Publication Date: May 19, 2015 | Reviewed: July 6, 2017


In this exercise, students identify and draw slices through fruit, beginning with single pieces of fruit and working up to arrangements of multiple pieces of fruit. This practice at sketching slices through familiar objects is preparation for sketching slices through geological features.

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Learning Goals

After successfully completing this exercise, students will be able to sketch slices through fruit at a variety of angles. It is my hope that they will be able to transfer that ability to thinking about slices through geologic features as well.

Context for Use

This exercise is designed to be used early on in a course that requires a lot of mental slicing (imagining cross-sections through sedimentary deposits or deformed rocks, for example). I use it as a prelude to an exercise on mentally slicing through sediment and rocks, and use the analogy that a pebble conglomerate is similar in some ways to a fruit salad. While this exercise is likely to be fairly easy for most students, it will allow you to quickly see whether you have any students who struggle with visual penetrative thinking ("mental slicing").

Description and Teaching Materials

Students work through a series of exercises, from multiple choice questions about slices through individual pieces of fruit to free sketching of cross-sections through arrangements of fruit still lifes.

Fruit slicing exercise (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 4.2MB May19 15)

Teaching Notes and Tips

This exercise was developed as part of a set of exercises to support 3D visualization skills. These exercises had an intended order. Instructors can pick and choose the exercises, but the order we intended was as follows:

  1. Introduction to 3D sketching
  2. Sketching block diagrams
  3. Sketching 3D Ripples and Dunes
  4. Slicing cylinders
  5. Slicing channels
  6. Slicing fruit
  7. Slicing rocks
  8. Slicing fossils


I look over student sketches to see how well they are able to sketch the cross sections.