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Half term fun – building a geodesic dome

Posted by markharrison on October 21, 2007

It’s half term this week, which of course causes a few problems (because there are one or two things business-related I’d hoped to finish), but has many joys (because I can just take a few days out to spend with them.)

Anyway, on the list of things to try with a little girl keen on maths was building a Buckydome / geodesic dome.

I found a great site that had an on-line calculator for the lengths of “struts” I needed. The site is run by a Californian maths teacher, who uses the summer holidays to build these domes for Americans to use as shade shelters, particularly at the Burning Man festival.

We weren’t intending using this as a shade shelter, just a fun thing to do, so rather than making the dome out of metal piping, we used A4 paper (reduce, reuse, recycle.)

We made a “2V” dome. The dimensions we decided on ended up with the “short side” of an A4 sheet of paper being the “B”strut at 21cm, so up I rolled 30 pieces of A4. That meant that the “A”strut 23 3/4 cm long… so sure enough, Mary cut 35 sheets to size, and we rolled them the “long” way.

maryindome-bigFixing them together wasn’t hi-tech. We’d intended using butterfly-type fasteners, but the rolls of paper ended up too thick, so we just used loads of scotch tape.

The resultant structure is very wobbly during construction, and then just tightens up, as if by magic, at the end of the build.

In fact, it was (just) big enough for Mary (age 34) to curl up in (see picture!). Pippy (age 5) got involved, and helped roll the paper at first… but then preferred a game of counting how many struts we’d made, and substracting to work out how many were still to go.


2 Responses to “Half term fun – building a geodesic dome”

  1. Quora said

    What are good uses for wire hangers?…

    Make a Buckydome (aka Geodesic dome.) Wire hangers would be ideal for this, and last a lot longer than the paper I’ve used in the past. It would also mean that you never make the hideous mistake of actually hanging clothes you care about on one! I’ve…

  2. Quora said

    What have you made for your kid?…

    What have I made for my kids? — update to follow once it’s daylight and I can photo the treehouse in question 🙂 What have I made with my kids? A series of Geodesic domes (aka Buckydomes): Number 2 with daughter and son hiding therein: Number 3 wit…

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