I’ve been experimenting with scaling up geometric polygons and polyhedra. Today I got to try it out with actual kids. My library programs tend to trend on the younger side, but we still had a blast.
A six year old and his three year old brother worked together. Later, the six year old got busy making more complex shapes.
By watching kids build I learned that you can construct these things from the outside AND the inside.
I noticed that the adults in the room were not nearly as engaged as when we do math art at the tables. I also noticed that making a model out of straws/pipe cleaners first didn’t really have an impact on the scaled-up building. Honestly, it was like we were living in two different worlds. Things that worked in Straw Land didn’t hold in Newspaper Land.
For example, I learned that at this scale (a double sheet of newspaper rolled on the diagonal) a cube will not be able to support itself. This, however, did not deter this kid who spent the whole time making the materials fit his vision:
I learned that blue painters tape works WAY better than scotch tape. And that it’s fun to decorate your scaled-up polyhedra. And that when you’re six you might need your mom to tear your tape but you can totally make awesomeness all by yourself.
I saw all sorts of new structural things at this bigger scale that you wouldn’t see if you were using paper. In the picture on the left, below, I think I can see an octahedron! I also noticed that newspaper rolls have cool spirals and it’s fun to decorate your BIG polyhedron.
My take away from today is that triangles ARE the strongest shape. Also, although it’s tough to make a cube work by building with just edges, that it might be fun to see what kinds of prisms we could make with the newspaper rolls. I anticipate they’d hold up a bit better.
It’s also fun to have a picture of yourself inside a BIG tetrahedron.