Surface Area and Geodesic Domes
Geometry and measurement is one of my favorite units of study in math. The opportunity to build and create is limitless (time providing of course) and the experiences of constructing 3-dimensional figures generates new excitement for platonic solids.
Teaching my students how to calculate surface area seems to have more meaning when they construct the figure that they will be measuring. In the past, students have created tetrahedron kites in order to determine surface area of triangles; however, this year my students are building geodesic domes with the same purpose in mind.
It is always interesting to see how student make adaptations to the design to enlarge, shrink, or connect their geodesic domes. They are far more creative than I am and it reinforces the ownership the students take in their creations. The construction of geodesic domes and spheres for that matter is extremely straight forward. We constructed ours from newspaper, tape, and staples…very basic and easily acquired materials. Once constructed, students are to cover the faces of the dome with tissue paper, thus requiring the students to measure the surface area of each of their triangles.
I have included some links that provide very simple directions for geodesic dome construction. Often I will take a simple project and make it cognitively appropriate for my students. It teaches them to consider the world around them in more unique and complex manners. Hopefully, the next time my students visit or see pictures of Epcot, they will value the mathematical principles behind that beautiful geodesic sphere.