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Geodesic Clubhouse

Geodesic domes are made of interlocking geometric shapes--often triangles. Because loads are spread over many triangles, these domes are especially strong. Often made of aluminum bars and plexiglass, they’re also light compared to ordinary domes.

Geodesic domes were popularized by an American inventor named Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). Look for the distinctive Bucky-ball shape in museums, greenhouses, alternative housing, and science centres. Vancouver’s Science World is a 47-metre tall geodesic dome made of 766 triangles.


Materials 

• newspaper

• doweling or broom handle*

• tape

• marker pen

• stapler (and staples)

• measuring tape

*Using small diamter doweling makes stronger tubes that are harder to staple. Using a larger diamter broom handle makes slightly weaker tubes that are easier to staple. Different sizes will work, but we have found a half-inch diameter to be the optimum size.

Like a real engineer, you will probably need to rely on teamwork to get this project finished. Why? Because the dome tends to flop over unless it's supported, and stapling is a bit tricky unless you get help holding all the newspaper tubes together.


Instructions

Geodesic Clubhouse Instructions 1
1. Open up a sheet of newspaper. Roll the newspaper around the doweling diagonally from one corner to the other.

2. Cut a piece of tape and stick it to something (preferably not your head) for a minute. Hold the newspaper tube in one hand and gently pull out the dowel with your other hand. If you rolled the newspaper really tightly, you may need to wiggle and twist the dowel a bit. Use the piece of tape to keep the newspaper tube together.

3. Cut the tube to length. [Note: The ends of the tube are not very stiff. To make a stronger tube, make the tube the correct length by cutting some off both ends.] You need a total of 35 newspaper tubes measuring 71 cm and 30 tubes measuring 63 cm. So get busy rolling, measuring, and cutting. Keep the two lengths separated.

4. Use the marker pen to put a mark on the longer newspaper tubes. Now you'll be able to tell the two lengths apart easily. From now on, we will call the marked tubes As, the unmarked tubes Bs.

Geodesic Clubhouse Instructions 2
5. Arrange 10 As in a circle.

6. Overlap the ends of two tubes by 2 cm and staple together. Repeat this to form the base of the dome.

7. Lay alternating pairs of As and Bs radiating out from the central circle.

Geodesic Clubhouse Instructions 3
8. Pick up two of the As and form a triangle with them and one of the As from the circle. Staple the joints firmly.

9. Do the same thing with the rest of the tube pairs. You should end up with a circle of triangles poking into the air. Tall triangles should alternate with short triangles.

10. Connect the triangles by stapling a row of Bs across the top.

11. Every point where four Bs come together, staple on another B pointing straight up.

Geodesic Clubhouse Instructions 4
12. Brace the Bs by using two As, one attached to each adjacent joint.

13. Connect the tubes by stapling a row of As across the top.

14. Finish the dome by adding the last five Bs. These tubes come from the five joints and meet in the middle.


Hints and Tips

• Rolling newspaper makes it a lot stronger. Roll two or three sheets of paper together to make even stronger structures.

• Tape over the staples at the joints to prevent accidental cuts.

• To make a covered dome, tape sheets of newspaper across the inside or outside of the dome.

• What do you do with a huge dome? You can turn it into a reading room, fort, club house, or just have it as an annoying thing in the middle of the floor you trip over all the time. If you put your dome outside, you may want to cover it with a plastic tarp. If it gets wet, you'll end up with a soggy mess!

• Write and tell us how many people you can jam inside your dome or send us a picture of your domed masterpiece!

• Do you think you could live in a dome? People do—domes are a popular alternative housing design. They're strong, light-weight, easy to make, and they're a nice change from your average shoe-box house design.


Dome Talk

This project is quickly proving to be our most popular! We often get comments about how much fun families have had building and playing in their own geodesic dome. We think this is wonderful and encourage anyone doing this project to take photos and write us about your dome experience. You can send them to us via email at web@yesmag.ca.

Here are the stories we have received so far...
   Greenwood Elementary
   Green Timbers Elementary
   Moville Cub Scouts Pack 259
   Fam van Dinther
   Académie de la Capitale  
   Daisy Girl Scout Troop #316
   Karen Pierce
   Michael Kiesel
   G. Ray Bodley High School
   Fairland Elementary School Grade 5 Class
   8th Brockville Scout Troop
   St. Edwards School Grade 7 Class
   John Bastianelli’s Cardboard Dome
   Kris Fontes’ Grade 7 Art Class
   Riverview Elementary School
   AJCC Day Camp
   The Montgomery Family
   Cub Pack 411, Ethridge, Tennessee
   The Terry Family
   College Park Elementary Grade 2 Class (Fall 2000)
   College Park Elementary Grade 2 Class (Fall 1998)
   Onoway High School Grade 7 Class
   Mr. Lisowyk’s Grade 6 Class
   Young Scientist’s Club in Winnipeg
   Leigh, Sue, Nick, Andrew, Greg, and Matthew from Halifax
   Soledad Enrichment Action Charter High School Girls Academy
   The Hofer Family, Switzerland
   Cub packs "Mogli" and "Shir-Khan", German Scout Association


Copyright © 2008 Peter Piper Publishing Inc.
Last updated October 31, 2008.