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Building an Icosahedron

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$ually spaced holes in each o# the rubber cylinders%
&ou do not have to be e'act here ( do the best you can) *wist your pushpin a bit once it is in the
hole to "ake the hold a little bigger (it will "ake it "uch easier to stick your toothpick in it)
tep 2: *ake two vertices (rubber cylinders) and push a toothpick into each hole% *hat will give
you + toothpicks (edges) popping out o# each verte'% &ou should have so"ething that looks like
tep 3: ,ut one verte' (rubber cylinder) at the end o# each toothpick #ro" step 2% hould look
like the #ollowing:
tep -: .onnect each outside verte' with toothpicks% *his will re$uire 10 "ore toothpicks% /n
order to connect the +
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
*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% 