Geodesic Dome Construction Activity

Photo of Sarah Horne, Paul McCloud, Douglas Yacek Students: Sarah Horne, Paul McCloud, Douglas Yacek

Sponsor: Austin Children's Museum

Date: Spring 2010

The ACM project requirements call for accessible and lightweight building materials which coalesce in the final dome to hold a 125 lb. load at any point. The constraints focus on dimensions, cost and activity time. The final design is a dome less than 7 ft. tall. The dome costs less than $400 dollars in order to remain competitive with other do-it-yourself geodesic dome kits. Finally, the construction time is less than an hour so that attention can be given to an accompanying lesson plan.

The central objective of this K project is to develop a robust, re-constructable geodesic dome prototype that can be built by the children attendees of Austin Children's Museum and their parents. The geodesic dome will assist in teaching the engineering concepts of tension, bending, and compression along with the understanding and basic knowledge of polygons and the inherent strength of triangles.

The design of the geodesic dome activity hinged upon the development of a novel hub design, which combines EMT electrical conduit and PVC pipe and allows for the children to assemble the dome with minimal assistance. In addition, an accompanying lesson plan was developed based on extensive educational research. Ultimately, a trial run at Austin Children's Museum was successfully performed, and the dome, its accompanying lesson plan, and fabrication instructions have been delivered and organized on a website for easy access to any user interested in this informal educational project.

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