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A Teacher's Guide to Building the Icosahedron as a Class Project

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The Geometry Center's 6-foot icosahedron

In the summer of 1994, the Geometry Center and the University of Minnesota Mathematics Office of Special Projects jointly sponsored a four-week summer enrichment course for females, underrepresented minorities, and economically disadvantaged students in grades 6-8. The first two weeks involved over 80 students and touched on a wide variety of topics; the second two weeks involved 24 students and was an in-depth exploration of the mathematics of planar isometries, symmetry groups, and the Platonic and Archimedean solids.

The last two weeks of the program made extensive use of the Geometry Center. The students met at the Geometry Center five times to use the Center's facilities and Center-produced software. As a closing group project of the solids unit, the students constructed what we believe to be the world's largest icosahedron built out of paper. (The icosahedron stands just under six feet tall!) This event was covered by two television stations and a newspaper. The icosahedron, the symbol of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), was prominently displayed at the MAA booth at Mathfest, the joint summer meeting of the MAA and the American Mathematical Society.


Up: Table of Contents
Previous: Exercise: How big is your icoshedron?
Next: Variations


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