Tabletop Tetrahedron

WHAT WILL YOU MAKE?

A tabletop tetrahedron is like a mini pyramid. To build it, you need to construct lots of smaller tetrahedrons and stack them like building blocks. In mathematics, the model you are building is known as a fractal, a design made up of smaller copies of itself. Each tetrahedron is made of six struts made of rolled paper. To make a two-level pyramid, you need four smaller tetrahedrons, or 24 struts. A three-level tetrahedron takes eight smaller versions, or 48 paper struts. Want to add more levels? You do the math!
PRINT THESE INSTRUCTIONS

WHAT WILL YOU NEED?

• 8.5" x 11" copy paper (one sheet for every one of the smaller tetrahedron "building blocks")
• Glue stick (for a more permanent structure, use white glue)
• Small adhesive dots (1/8 inch is good)
• Bamboo barbecue skewers or round toothpicks
• Ruler
• Scissors

STEP 1

For each tetrahedron building block, cut a sheet of copy paper into three pieces the long way. Then cut those three pieces in half the other way. You should end up with six pieces that are 3 3/4 inches wide by 4 1/4 inch long. Take the glue stick and apply an even layer of glue along one short end (you can also use white glue spread with a toothpick).

Lay a bamboo skewer across the opposite end. Start to roll the paper up as tightly and smoothly as possible, keeping the ends even. When you reach the glued strip, press the paper roll closed for a few seconds with your hands.

STEP 2

When you have made six struts, pinch the ends flat and a little bent.

Take three sticks and lay them flat in a triangle. Apply adhesive dots to the end of one strut and attach it to the end of the next strut. Do the same with the other corners.

STEP 3

Take three more struts and attach one end to each corner of the triangle. Apply adhesive dots to all three ends and press together. Your first tetrahedron is finished!

STEP 4

To keep adding to your tetrahedron fractal, make three more small structures. Place them on your work surface, corners touching, so that their bases form a larger triangle. Use adhesive dots to connect the corners that touch. Then put an adhesive dot on top of the tetrahedrons on the first level and place the fourth tetrahedron on top. If you wish, continue to add layers the same way.

This project is taken from the book Make: Paper Inventions by Kathy Ceceri

Your safety is your own responsibility, including proper use of equipment and safety gear, and determining whether you have adequate skill and experience. Power tools, electricity, and other resources used for these projects are dangerous, unless used properly and with adequate precautions, including safety gear and adult supervision. Some illustrative photos do not depict safety precautions or equipment, in order to show the project steps more clearly. Use of the instructions and suggestions found in Maker Camp is at your own risk. Make Community, LLC, disclaims all responsibility for any resulting damage, injury, or expense.

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