Buy the DVD
Spacer image with 5 links within the image
The Educators Guide
How to use this guide
Program Descriptions
Planning Ideas
To Activities
Additional Resources
Buy the Video
  Activity: Geodesic Dome
Activities Index | Handout | Educator Ideas  

What's the strongest dome you can build out of newspaper?
A geodesic dome is a dome formed by joining triangles together. You can build a giant geodesic dome out of newspaper. First, gather some friends or family members to help you.

What You Will Need
• many newspapers
• masking tape
• measuring tape
• markers, glitter, beads, and glue for decorating

Make a Prediction
Predict how many magazines you think your newspaper dome will be able to support.

Try It Out
Illustration of how to roll the newspapers, starting from one corner. 1. Stack three flat sheets of newspaper together. Starting in one corner, roll the sheets up together as tightly as you can to form a tube. When you reach the other corner, tape the tube to keep it from unrolling. Repeat until you have 65 tubes. 
Illustration of rolled, taped and trimmed paper tubes for use in constructing a large geodesic dome. 2. Now cut down the tubes to make 35 "longs" and 30 "shorts." Longs: Cut off both ends of a tube until it is 71 centimeters long. Use this tube as a model to create 34 more longs. Be sure to mark all the longs clearly in some way, such as with colored tape, so you can tell them apart from the shorts. Decorate the tubes if you like. Shorts: Cut off both ends of another tube until it is 66 cm long. Use this tube as a model to create 29 more shorts. Decorate the tubes if you like. 
Illustration of ring of straws. 3. First, tape 10 longs together to make the base of the dome. 
Illustration of straws ring with long and short pieces attached at vertices. 4. Tape a long and a short to each joint. Arrange them so that there are two longs next to each other, followed by two shorts, and so on, as shown. 

Illustration of ring of straws, with long and short pieces attached to form bracing triangles. 5. Tape the tops of two adjacent shorts together to make a triangle. Tape the next two longs together, and so on all the way around. 

Illustration of straws ring with second tier ring attached to top of bracing triangles. 6. Connect the tops of these new triangles with a row of shorts. (The dome will start curving inward.) 

Illustration of straws ring with next tier of bracing longs and shorts. 7. At each joint where four shorts come together, tape another short sticking straight up. Connect this short to the joints on either side with longs, forming new triangles. 
Illustration of straws ring with next level of bracing. 8. Connect the tops of these new triangles
with a row of longs. 

Illustration of completed straws construction. 9. Finally, add the last five shorts so that they meet at a single point in the center of the dome. (You might need to stand inside the dome to tape them together.) To test your dome's strength, see how many magazines you can load on top.

Explain It
How strong is your dome? Did the results surprise you? Why or why not? What was the hardest part about creating the dome?

Build on It
How could you make your dome stronger without interrupting the space underneath it? Make a prediction and test it.