Class project - Building a tetrahedron kite


or Ghost of Alexander Graham Bell

Gather these materials for each student or each cell of your kite:

  1. 6 plastic straws, approximately 8 inch long (McDonalds? Do NOT use the straws designed to bend.)
  2. Twine (Cotton) 48 inches and 12 inches
  3. Two pieces of light weight covering material 8 inches square tissue wrapping paper works well) See how to cut the covering pattern
  4. Glue stick
  5. Approximately 8 feet of crepe paper streamer or ribbon
  6. Strong, thin string for a bridle and flying line.
  1. Thread the twine through 3 of the straws and tie snugly, leaving one long end of the yarn free, to form a triangle.
  2. Thread the remaining end of the twine through two more straws and tie snugly forming two triangles sharing one base.
  3. Tie one end of the 12 inch yarn at one vertex. Thread the twine through the remaining straw and tie snugly at the opposite vertex to form a tetrahedron. Stress making the joints snug, but don't bend the straw.
  4. Lay the tetrahedron on one tissue piece. Spread glue along one edge and wrap it over the straw.
  5. Repeat the previous step until the tissue is glued along all three edges.
  6. Lay the tetrahedron on the second piece of tissue. Glue as before covering a side adjacent to the one you just covered. One edge of the tetrahedron has a double covering. Decorate your cell in an appropriate fashion of your choice. Remember, a heavy kite will not fly as well.
  7. Use the tetrahedrons from four students to make one kite. Fasten tightly at the corners using garbage bag ties - or some satisfactory substitute. Make sure that the covered sides all face the same direction.
  8. Fasten a 33 inch bridle string to the top and bottom of the large tetrahedron on the covered edge.
  9. Fasten your streamer tail to the bottom corner where the bridle is fastened.
  10. Attach your flying to the bridle approximately 9 inches from the top of the kite. (This may need adjustment when attempting to fly the kite.)

Fly this kite in 8 to 15 mile winds. You may need to add more tail in stronger winds.....or put 4 of the large tetrahedrons into a gigantic 16 cell kite! (More cells make the kite more stable, too.) You will need to enlarge the bridle string if you make the giant kite.

Good luck with your project.

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Text and photographs copyright 1997 David Ellis