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How to build a small geodesic dome model for kids

Updated February 21, 2017

The geodesic dome was invented by Buckminster Fuller in 1954. Its design is unique and incredibly strong because it is composed entirely of triangles, which have no way of bending or racking like squares do. A geodesic dome is essentially a pattern of pentagons, each consisting of five triangles, and each surrounded by five hexagons consisting of six triangles. A plane of hexagons would be flat, but by removing one triangle from intermittent hexagons, thus creating a pentagon, the plane is bent and a circular form is created. Half of one of these circular forms is a geodesic dome.

Cut the straws to the lengths indicated in "Things You Need." You now have three different lengths of straws: short (6 ½ inches), medium (7 ½ inches), and long (7 ¾ inches). Using 30 short straws, make six five-pointed stars using five straws each. Do this by poking holes into the straws ¼ inch from the end with an ice pick or an awl or a nail, and securing the ends together with a brad (the kind with two prongs that bend outwards and hold paper together).

Using 90 long straws, make 15 six-pointed stars using six straws each. From now on, every time you make a joint it should have six straws sticking out of it.

Connect one of the five-pointed stars and two of the six-pointed stars. Do this by putting one corner of each of the three stars together, along with one medium straw in between each of the three star points (for a total of six straws).

Take the five-pointed star, one of the six-pointed stars, and one of the medium straws, and connect them, along with another six-pointed star and two more medium straws. You should now have a five-pointed star and a six-pointed star connected along one side, with a bunch of other stuff sticking out the sides.

Continue the previous step around the edges of the five-pointed star. You now have the top of your dome: A pentagon surrounded by five hexagons.

Using this top piece as a model, replicate it around the sides of the dome. Your final five five-pointed stars will be distributed evenly around the sides of the dome. At the base of the dome there will be another five partial pentagons, with the bottom leg missing because this is where the base of the dome is.

Tip

Remain aware of the pattern of the dome as a whole as you are working. If you notice how the parts are all made up of a repeating pattern, it will be much easier to make a geodesic dome model.

Things You'll Need

  • 90 straws 7 3/4 inches long
  • 85 straws 7 1/2 inches long
  • 80 straws 6 1/2 inches long
  • 76 small brads
  • Ice pick or awl
  • Ruler
  • Utility knife
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About the Author

Jagg Xaxx has been writing since 1983. His primary areas of writing include surrealism, Buddhist iconography and environmental issues. Xaxx worked as a cabinetmaker for 12 years, as well as building and renovating several houses. Xaxx holds a Doctor of Philosophy in art history from the University of Manchester in the U.K.