Making Math


Geometry is used in architecture all the time and domes are a wonderful visible example of the power of mathematics.  Domes are efficient in that they use only a small amount of material to create something on an impressive scale.  They are familiar from common playground structures.  Young students especially love creating their own spaces to play in, so building a dome is a natural way to introduce a number of geometric ideas.

Here are a few dome construction workshops that culminate in a large architectural space within the classroom.  The first is a paper model that anyone can do.  The second is four feet in diameter, using cardboard, which makes it easy to cut on any kind of saw or laser-cutter.  The third is over six feet in diameter, using wood, so it is more permanent and can be scaled larger.

Paper Dome.  This activity uses easily accessible materials and provides a minds-on introduction to the geometry of domes.  Students will create a paper model 21 inches (52 cm) in diameter.

Cardboard Dome.  This hemispherical dome is made from 65 pieces of cardboard that are cut ahead of time, then assembled and glued together.

Wood Dome.  This dome has the same design and lesson plan as the above cardboard dome, but is larger and more permanent because it is made of 1/8-inch thick plywood.

Wiggly Dome.  A whimsical cardboard dome on a larger scale. This workshop builds on the previous ideas, giving students the opportunity to see how the techniques they have learned can be creatively expanded.