This week at the Curious Minds Club the children built models of the Platonic Solids to take home. In the previous two weeks I had given the children Polydron Frameworks and what I call a generic version of Geomag to make the Platonic Solids. These materials are expensive and I took them home at the end of the sessions. I wanted to give the children an opportunity to make models they could take home with them.
The materials I used were simple: plastic drinking straws and pipe cleaners. (I did ponder the ethics of plastic straws, as they are due to be banned in the UK in 2020; my conclusion was that I should use up the ones that currently exist before switching to paper). Feel free to contact me for details of the construction method. Once I showed the children how to build the models they took to it quickly. They enjoyed commenting on what the models looked like as they went along. When they were building a cube: “it looks like a laptop” and “I have made a table”.
Here are all five Platonic Solids that I made. (The session overran and there was no time to take photos of the children’s models). I think they look good in black. See how the pipe cleaners form the vertex:
Here is each one by itself:
They all look good …. until you get to the Dodecahedron above. This was a real struggle. My first attempt is below. The edge length is 75mm, the same as the others. It was hard to make every face look like a regular pentagon.
I thought I would try making each edge half the length (75mm to 37mm) to see if this was easier. This is how it looked during construction:
The end result is below. It was the best I could manage. I manipulated a lot of the vertices by switching the pipe cleaners around. It goes concave in places but the whole thing should be convex.
My conclusion is that drinking straws and pipe cleaners are a cheap and easy building material for building the Platonic Solids, if you can tolerate an imperfect Dodecahedron.
I also made a whole set using neon straws, but I don’t think they look as good as the black. You can see some gaps between the pipe cleaners inside the straws.