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Building an Icosahedra Math Project

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Materials Needed:

• push pin

• 12 rubber cylinders (vertices)

• 30 toothpicks (edges)

How to build an icosahedron:

tep 1: !se the push pin and "ake #ive e$ually spaced holes in each o# the rubber cylinders%

&ou do not have to be e'act here ( do the best you can) *wist your pushpin a bit once it is in the

hole to "ake the hold a little bigger (it will "ake it "uch easier to stick your toothpick in it)

tep 2: *ake two vertices (rubber cylinders) and push a toothpick into each hole% *hat will give

you + toothpicks (edges) popping out o# each verte'% &ou should have so"ething that looks like

this:

tep 3: ,ut one verte' (rubber cylinder) at the end o# each toothpick #ro" step 2% hould look

like the #ollowing:

tep -: .onnect each outside verte' with toothpicks% *his will re$uire 10 "ore toothpicks% /n

order to connect the +

th

toothpick0 you will have to do so"e bending so the center pops up and

creates a pyra"id ( you will go #ro" a 21di"ensional ob2ect to a 31di"ensional ob2ect)

3&/: the #aces o#

your solid will be

e$uilateral triangles%

tep +: *ake ONE o# your pyra"ids and add on the last two toothpicks needed on each verte'%

*his will re$uire a total o# 10 "ore toothpicks% ee picture below (top view):

tep 4: *his is your last step% &ou "ust connect the two "ain pieces together% /t is a little tricky%

3ollow the pattern you see in the pictures below% 5#ter you connect the #irst two toothpicks the

rest beco"es easy% 6ust continue the pattern% *he darkened lines below are the toothpicks you

are now adding%

%

&ou have now created the icosahedron%

*here are #ive platonic solids% *etrahedron0 cube0 dodecahedron0 octahedron0 and the

icosahedron% 5 platonic solid is a polyhedron all o# whose #aces are congruent regular polygons

and where the sa"e nu"ber o# #aces "eet at every verte'% 3or our icosahedron0 the #aces are all

e$uilateral triangles and + triangles "eet at each verte'%

!sing only e$uilateral triangles you can build two other solids% 7y having 3 triangles "eet at

each verte'0 you create the tetrahedron%

*hese two edges will

connect to the sa"e verte'

7y having - triangles "eet at each verte'0 you create the octahedron%

8e9ve already seen that having + triangles "eeting at each verte' builds our icosahedron%

/# you try and have 4 e$uilateral triangles "eet at a verte' you will be unsuccess#ul in creating a

solid as you will have a #lat sur#ace on the plane% (:ach angle o# the triangle will be 40 degrees (

putting si' together creates 340 degrees)

;et9s "ove to the -1sided regular polygon (s$uare) and try to build a solid% Having only two

s$uares "eet at an edge obviously does not work (#lattens out ( not a solid)% /# three s$uares

"eet at each verte'0 you will build a cube)

5gain0 i# we try and have - s$uares "eet at a verte'0 we will be unsuccess#ul at building a solid

(#lattens out on the plane 11 each angle o# a s$uare is <0 degrees% ,utting - together adds up to

340 degrees)

;et9s "ove on to our +1sided regular polygon (regular pentagon)% :ach angle is 10= degrees%

,utting 3 together at any verte' will create the dodecahedron%

5tte"pting to build a "odel using - (or "ore) pentagons at each verte' will #ail% *he - (or

"ore) co"bined angles will go over 340 degrees%

i"ilarly when you go with a 41sided regular polygon (he'agon) you will not even be able to

have 3 "eet at a verte') (:ach angle is 120 degrees)% /t i""ediately #lattens out% *he angles in

the polygons only get larger as you increase the nu"ber o# sides% *hus we have only the +

platonic solids))

More neat stuff:

5 ,latonic dual is two ,latonic solids0 one placed inside the other% *he vertices o# the inner

,latonic solid are the center points o# each o# the sur#aces o# the outer ,latonic solid% *hey are

pictured below%

*he octahedron is the dual o# the cube% *he cube is the dual o# the

octahedron%

*he tetrahedron is a sel# dual%

*he dodecahedron is dual to the *he icosahedron is dual to the

icosahedron dodecahedron%

6ust #or #un you could build the other platonic solids% 5 triangle is a rigid polygon% *here#ore

the tetrahedron and octahedron will also be nice rigid solids #or this pro2ect% *he cube and

dodecahedron will not be rigid solids and will >wobble? a#ter being built%

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