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