Building a Sierpinski tetrahedron at the Curious Minds Club (St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School, 14 February 2020)

I started this week’s session of the Curious Minds Club with some geometric snacks. First up were some nachos. I asked the children what type of triangle the nacho is. We talked about the Isosceles triangle last week, but none of them remembered. I wrote it on the whiteboard this week, to aid their learning.

Next up were some snacks I made, using cocktail sticks and midget gems:

Tetrahedron snacks

I told the children they could eat one if they could name the shape. One boy said triangle-based pyramid. I said this was correct, but that this shape has two names. I gave a hint about the first letter, and a girl very proudly said tetrahedron. I then handed one round to everybody, but made them all say tetrahedron first.

I explained that this week’s activity was to build Sierpinski’s tetrahedron, a three dimensional version of Sierpinski’s triangle. I showed them one part of it I had made using the generic version of Geomag that we used recently to build the Platonic Solids. I asked them to use just one colour to make the first part, then repeat this with a different colour. I got them to work in teams to add their four parts together to make a two layered Sierpinski tetrahedron. It involved removing some of the vertices, which the children worked out.

Two cousins (Y2 and Y4) made this (there was not enough dark blue to complete one part):

 

A boy and girl in Y6 made this:

 

For the rest of the session some children used the wooden pattern blocks to complete some more pattern boards. Others played Dotty Dinosaurs, a game about shapes. I asked two children to test a new game I have invented, with the working title of Plato’s Polyhedral Dice Game. Each child had five dice in the shape of the five Platonic Solids, and a dice cup. They had to race to complete tasks, such as roll five odd numbers. They seemed to enjoy it, although there was not enough time to get detailed feedback.

At the end of the session, because it was the last week of this half-term, I gave each child a gift to take home. I made these 2020 Rhombohedron calendars at home. I was testing different methods of attaching the parts of the net: PVA glue, glue dots, magnets. The winner was …. glue dots! The pdf is here.

 

I took all of the Sierpinski tetrahedrons the children had made home with me. I wanted to see if I could make one with three layers. I rearranged the parts, added two of my own, and came up with this, photographed from different angles:

 

 

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