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Paper Plate Art = Paper Plate Geometry


Paper Plate Art = Paper Plate Math

Ages 7 and up, with adult help to get started


Go buy a stack of the cheapest paper plates you can find, a pack of bobby pins, and a roll of tape, and you'll be ready for a fun bit of hands-on geometry.

Artist Bradford Hansen-Smith creates geometric art by folding paper plates and connecting them with bobby pins and tape. You can do the same by following the instructions on his site. In doing so, you'll make geometric solids your kids may only have encountered on a page in a math book - tetrahedrons, octahedrons, and others. It's easiest to follow the instructions with actual paper plates in your hands (rather than trying to imagine how the steps work). Once you make a shape yourself, it's very easy to explain it to a child. The shapes take just a minute or two to fold.

On the Gallery pages of the site you can see pages of complex shapes Hansen-Smith has created. The How-to pages take you step-by-step through the creation of a sphere, a tetrahedron, an octahedron, and an icosahedron (16 triangular surfaces). Hansen-Smith clearly loves the math and can't resist slipping a lot of terminology into his instructions and pointing out cool mathematical features of the shapes-in-progress. That makes the pages very rich but a little hard to follow at first - don't let that scare you into thinking the shapes are hard to make.



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