Making a Geodesic Dome!

General Topics: Geometry, Architecture, Physics
Grade Level: 6-8

 

In this activity we explored the process of building a geodesic dome with straws by: a) observing a picture, rather than by following a set of instructions; b) working with the other students in their groups; and c) observing the other groups, ideas were bounced back and forth which helped inform their own design.

Process:

Each group was given a bag of plastic straws, a roll of masking tape, scissors, and a picture of a geodesic dome. We then explained each group how to make triangles from the straws and tape, and then how to add other triangles to those triangles to make hexagons. After that, each group was given free reign to decide how to continue. Occasionally we had to remind the students that everyone in the group needed to participate, but we did so in a way that promoted teamwork, suggesting that some students who were being left out of the creative process could be helping in a way that suited their level of creativity, rather than telling the students who were taking most of the responsibility to let go.

What did we learned?

  • How domes are constructed
  • How to transform an idea into a tangible object
  • When something goes wrong, not to give up but to try something new
  • How to work together to achieve a common goal

Things to keep in mind for future activities: 

  • Some of the students wanted a plan beforehand.
  • Rather than teaching the students how to follow instructions, the activity became a lesson in thinking about a problem and how to solve it.
  • Having a finished example of the geodesic dome for students to see that the project is possible to complete, could help facilitate the process.