How to Make a Styrofoam Globe

Written by araminta matthews
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How to Make a Styrofoam Globe
The most difficult part about making a globe is scaling. (globe image by Christopher Meder from

Using his knowledge of the Earth's rotation and other geometric data, an Egyptian astronomer named Eratosthenes calculated the Earth's circumference to be roughly 25,000 miles. Ocean accounts for about 70 per cent of the planet's surface, with dry land taking up just 30 per cent. The hardest part in making a styrofoam globe that closely resembles the Earth is determining the scale. Working with styrofoam ball with a 16-inch diameter and thus a 50-inch circumference, the scale will be 1 square inch is equal to 500 square miles. Making a styrofoam globe is fun and educational.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Styrofoam ball (16-inch diameter)
  • Blue acrylic paint
  • Art paint brush
  • Tape measure
  • Black magic marker
  • 20-inch bamboo skewer
  • Blue artist tape (1/8-inch)
  • Old atlas (with several world maps)
  • Precision craft knife
  • Craft glue

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  1. 1

    With a paint brush. paint your styrofoam ball blue and allow it to dry completely.

  2. 2

    Wrap a tape measure around the middle of the ball, bisecting it. Using a marker, place a black dot at the "0" mark and at the 25" mark.

  3. 3

    Push the skewer through the mark on the styrofoam ball at one end so it emerges at the mark on the other end. The skewer now marks the North and South poles.

  4. 4

    Wrap a piece of blue artist tape around the centre of the globe perpendicular to the skewer to create the equator.

  5. 5

    Scan an image of Africa from the atlas and copy it into photo-editing software. Trace the coastline of Africa with the software's "magic wand tool" and erase the inverse image so only Africa is selected. Scale the image by selecting the corner of the image and dragging it in or out until 9 inches long from north to south.

  6. 6

    Repeat step 5 with North America, including Greenland. After capturing North America using the magic wand tool, scale the image by dragging the corner in or out until the image is 10 inches long from north to south.

  7. 7

    Repeat step 5 with South America, scaling the image to 9 inches long north to south. Repeat with Antarctica, scaling the image to about 12 inches wide east to west. Repeat with Europe and Asia together, scaling the image to about 14 inches east to west. Repeat with Australia, scaling the image to about 5 inches long north to south.

  8. 8

    Print each continent and cut out along the coastline with a precision craft knife.

  9. 9

    Glue the printout copy of North America in the North and West hemispheres connected by Panama to South America in the South and West hemispheres below it. Glue Eurasia about 8 inches to the right of North America. Glue Africa directly below the Middle East. Glue Australia beneath the eastern most side of Asia. Center Antarctica roughly over the skewer point of the South pole and glue it to the globe.

  10. 10

    Use your atlas to help you correctly label any points of interest, oceans, landmarks, and countries on the globe. Add any islands you want by colouring them in with the marker on the globe, matching the location you see on your maps.

Tips and warnings

  • To simplify this process, you may choose an atlas that is already scaled similarly to your model (1 inch equals 500 square miles) and simply cut the land maps out of that.

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