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

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The Geometry Center's icosahedron was made from 1/8 inch foamboard, which is available at most art supply stores. We used white foamboard and had the students color and decorate each panel. The amount of foamboard you need depends on the edge length for your icosahedron. Foamboard comes in rectangles of length 32x40 inches. Because foamboard costs approximately $5 per sheet, it is convenient to plan the side length of your icosahedron to maximize the number of triangles that will fit on each sheet. This makes a nice exercise for the students. For example:
  • The Geometry Center cut out each triangular panel from a 32x40 inch rectangular pieces of foamboard. Three possible ways to cut the triangle are shown in Figure 2. What is the maximum edge length of each triangle? Does your answer change if we also want to reduce the amount of cutting that we are required to do?

You will also need an X-acto knife ($2-$5), a one-hole paper punch, and "twist ties" (e.g., those used to close kitchen garbage bags). Hardware stores often have packs of 100 ties for about $1. You may also want materials for coloring; we used assorted magic markers. A yardstick, meterstick, or some other straightedge is also useful.

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Page last updated Sat Oct 1 13:38:46 CDT 2005
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