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Age Range: 7-11
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • D & T
  • Maths

DIY 3d geodesic dome project

Making a 3D geodesic dome

This activity focusses on developing understanding of structures by making a geodesic dome.

Kids love to create, and building a geodesic dome provides an ideal opportunity to do just that. It's a hands-on project that allows them to get involved in every step of the process, from gathering materials to constructing the structure itself.

Geodesic domes introduce children to the practical application of maths. They get to see how geometry, plays a crucial role in creating strong, stable structures. This helps kids understand that maths isn't just abstract concepts on a page; it has real-world applications, which can make learning more engaging and meaningful.

This is one of a set of resources developed to support the teaching of the primary national curriculum, particularly key stage two (KS2). It has been designed to support the delivery of maths, design and technology (DT).

This could be used as a one-off activity or project or as part of a wider unit of work focussing on structures and structural systems. It could also, for example, be linked with the IET primary activity stronger structures experiment, which involves testing the structural strength of different shapes.

This is also a great activity to try at home as a fun project!

Activity: Making a 3D geodesic dome

In this activity learners will make a 3D geodesic dome from drinking straws and chenille strips (pipe cleaners).

Geodesic domes are marvels of engineering, made entirely from triangles. They offer an exciting way to explore how this simple shape can reinforce a structure, providing strength and stability. This hands-on activity is not only engaging but also fosters teamwork and enhances manual dexterity.

Tools/supplies needed:

  • 35 x Long straws (6.0 cm)
  • 30 x short straws (5.3 cm)
  • 68 pieces of chenille strip (7-8 cm)

Follow our step-by-step guide on making a 3D geodesic dome:

  1. Push 5 short straws onto the ends of a 5-way connector
  2. Repeat this five more times (making 6 stars in total)
  3. Take one star - insert 6-way connectors into the outside end of each straw
  4. Add long straws between the two legs of each connector nearest the star
  5. Add long straws to the two outer legs of each connector
  6. Add 6-way connectors to the outer long straws (5 in total)
  7. Add the five other stars made at step 1. Three straws from each star should attach to connectors.
  8. Add 4-way connectors to the ends of all the outer straws (working round the dome)
  9. Add long straws between each connector…and congratulations, the dome is complete!

The engineering context

Structures are all around us. They enable buildings, bridges and vehicles to withstand the stresses placed on them every day. This activity offers an exciting glimpse into the world of engineering and architecture, sparking an interest in these fields.

Suggested learning outcomes

By participating in this activity, learners will gain a deep understanding that triangles are not just a basic geometric shape, but a powerful tool in reinforcing structures. They will experience first-hand the process of assembling a geodesic dome, highlighting the importance of cooperation and teamwork in achieving a common goal.

This hands-on approach brings abstract concepts to life, providing a concrete foundation for future learning in design, technology, and maths.

Activity info, teachers’ notes and curriculum links

All activity worksheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teachers’ notes, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

You can download our step-by-step instructions below as both a classroom lesson plan or PowerPoint presentation.

And please do share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

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