An Easy Way to Use Straws - Geodesic Domes

So, one day I discovered that my box of straw pieces was getting pretty full and I also had several boxes of bright neon straws.

Now, I know you are thinking about two things!

  • Why do I have a box of straw pieces? 
  • What are you thinking about doing with all those straws....?
Well, the reason I have all those straw pieces is that I am a STEM teacher and I save everything.
And, to find out the rest of the story, hmmmm.......keep reading!

STEM Challenge: Create geodesic domes using straws a a main material. If you save pieces of straws this challenge is for you!
In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon passes tiny amounts on to me- if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!

How about Geodesic Domes!

Okay, let's start with some background.
I will be honest and say that I really had never thought about a geodesic dome until I saw one! We were vacationing in Dallas and we saw the one in the above photo- which was taken from a moving car! It was one of those moments where I saw something and started hollering for my husband to grab his phone and snap the photo!

Later, when we were back in Alabama I took a closer look at the dome and realized it is made of little triangles or hexagons.

Start by learning about domes!

STEM Challenge: Create geodesic domes using straws a a main material. If you save pieces of straws this challenge is for you!
Students brought personal devices to class and researched geodesic domes before we started. They quickly noticed those same little triangles that I had found when I looked at the domes.

Time to Plan

Part of our procedures (using the Engineering Design Process) is that every student sketches and then shares an idea with the team. This sets the group up for making the best decisions of how to proceed with a structure.

Then it was time to gather straws and pieces of straws and make some decisions about how to make the triangles and join them together.

STEM Challenge: Create geodesic domes using straws a a main material. If you save pieces of straws this challenge is for you!

Lots of Different Ways 

STEM Challenge: Create geodesic domes using straws a a main material. If you save pieces of straws this challenge is for you!

You can see above that students found some ways to connect those triangles with the pipe cleaners. I did spend some time helping groups learn how to twist those pipe cleaners together. These are great materials in the STEM lab, but you might have to show kids how to use them!

For this challenge, we used white pipe cleaners so the straws would be the main colors of the finished domes. Usually, we use really bright colors, like these:

Almost finished!

STEM Challenge: Create geodesic domes using straws a a main material. If you save pieces of straws this challenge is for you!

We did find joining all the triangles together was a challenge. Connecting triangles made little hexagons. Then a bunch of hexagons made a really large hexagon. Occasionally we got a little off center, but the kids stuck with this one to finish with some fabulous models!

I had a fifth grader say this,
 "We should have already known this stuff about the triangles and hexagons cause of pattern blocks!"

This is a fun challenge that will definitely take care of those straws you have saved. If you need those bright neon straws I found some:

Great colors! We hung our domes from the ceiling and displayed them for all classes to see!

No comments

Back to Top