Dome Discovery

In my Making/Building/Creating co-curricular, I'm working with Grade 3-5s on small construction projects. Our first project was the construction of a small geodesic dome out of corrugated plastic sheets. We used Make-do snap rivets to assemble the dome. 

We started off by looking at geodesic structures and discussing how structures are formed. Students learned about Buckminster Fuller and his work with domes. Making use of a surplus of corrugated plastic, we calculated how many sheets we had and how we could use them to build a dome. Using a dome calculator, we were able to determine the size of our dome, as well as the measurements for the triangles. We decided to create a 2-factor dome (using one isosceles triangle and one equilateral triangle) We cut templates for the triangles and then began the process of cutting out all the pieces.

Next, we used the Make-do rivets to assemble the pieces. These rivets are reusable and super easy to use with kids. They just need to punch a hole, using a tool provided, and then snap the two pieces together around the material.

Then, we assembled the pentagons, which we then connected using the equilateral triangles.  It was lots of fun trying to figure out how to keep the structure stable while we put the pieces together. 

The dome structure wasn't stable until we put the last piece into place.  This was a surprise for the students because many thought the structure would remain flimsy. Finally we finished the dome.

In our next class, we looked at the shapes, angles, and forms of the dome.

We used the Parts-Purposes-Complexities thinking routine to look at the components of the dome and how they work together to give it structure. Our next step is to design an entrance for the dome and to consider how we can use it around the school.

This was a great project to get students engaged with construction on a large scale, and to also connect learning about angles and geometry with a real-world application. Since I will run another iteration of this co-curricular in a few months, I'm thinking about new ways to incorporate design thinking into this project.