2-3 Hours
In Progress
Lesson 1 of 0
In Progress

Geodesic Newspaper Dome

2-3 hours


Ages 11+

What Will You Learn?

Geodesic domes don’t just look cool. They’re also way stronger than regular building shapes. Like tetrahedrons, they’re made completely of triangles. But they also have the strength of rounded arches. And they don’t need any internal walls or supports to hold them up, so they use a minimum of materials. Geodesic domes are so strong and compact, they’re used to house radar equipment near the North Pole. But they’re also used as futuristic buildings in places like Disney World in Florida.

Roll the Newspaper

Step 1

Lay a sheet of newspaper on the table. (Use two or three sheets if you want to make your struts extra strong.)

Step 2

Place a toothpick or skewer at one corner, and tuck the corner of the newspaper under it. Then use it to help you roll the sheet up as tightly as you can to form a strut. As you roll, gently slide your hands apart to keep the ends nice and tight.

Step 3

When you reach the other corner of the newspaper, wrap it tightly around the middle with a piece of masking tape.

Step 4

Repeat until you have 65 struts.

Trim the Struts

Step 5

Next, use the scissors to trim about an inch of one end of each strut.

Step 6

Then use a yardstick to measure the struts to the proper length and trim of the other end. You will need:

    •  35 long struts that are 28 inches (71 cm) each
    • 30 short struts that are 26 inches (66 cm) each

Mark the long struts and the short struts with different color tape or markers so you can tell the two sizes apart.

Build the Triangles

Step 7

Now, begin to build your dome. Take three long struts and tape them together at the ends to form a triangle.

Step 8

Make four more triangles, for a total of five. These are the long triangles.

Step 9

Make five more triangles the same way, but use one long strut for the base and two short struts for the sides. These are the short triangles.

Build the Triangles

The base of the dome is a decagon with 10 sides. To make it, you will lay down all the triangles you just created so that their bases form a rough circle.

Step 10

Start by laying down one long triangle.

Step 11

Now lay a short triangle next to it, so that one end of the base (the long strut) is touching a corner of the other triangle.

Step 12

Continue alternating long and short triangles around the rough circle, tops pointing in toward the center, until they are all touching.


Build the First Level

Step 13

Take a short strut and use it to connect the top corners of one triangle to the top corner of the one next to it. It helps to do this with a partner: one person to hold the strut, and one person to tape.

Step 14

Go around the dome and connect all the triangle tops the same way. The first level of the dome should now be standing up and leaning a bit toward the center.

Build the Next Level

Step 15

For the next level, tape one end of a short strut to the top of every short triangle. Then use two long struts to connect the top of the loose stick to the top of the triangle to the right and the left. Repeat all around the dome.

Step 16

At this point, it’s a good idea to inspect your dome for any broken or loose connections. Wherever corners of triangles meet, loop some tape through the openings from one triangle to another until every opening is secured.

Build the Last Level

Step 17

To make the last level, take five long struts and lay them end to end to form a pentagon. Tape them together.

Step 18

Tape one short strut to each corner and let them lop into the middle. Take all the loose ends and connect them with more tape.

Step 19

Fit the pentagon into the opening at the top of your dome.

Step 20

Secure everything with plenty of tape. If you like, you can cover your dome with lat sheets of newspaper to create a playhouse or shelter.

About the Book

Enjoy this project? Making Edible Paper in 3 Easy Steps is just one example of fun and innovative projects you can find in the book Paper Inventions by Kathy Ceceri. Filled with color illustrations, step-by-step instructions, supply lists, and templates, this book will help you to create your own paper based projects!

Kathy Ceceri June 4, 2021
Kathy Ceceri is a STEAM educator and the author of over a dozen books of hands-on learning activities with a focus on science, technology, history, and art. She has taught live online workshops for Maker Camp, written beginner-level tutorials for companies including Adafruit Industries, and worked with the Girl Scouts of the USA to develop robotics badges and a cybersecurity challenge. Formerly a top contributor to Wired.com's GeekDad blog, a founding editor of the GeekMom blog, and the Homeschooling Expert for About.com (now ThoughtCo), Kathy teaches enrichment workshops through schools and libraries, and offers classes directly to families through SEA Homeschoolers.   Check out Kathy's books in MakerShed and on Kathy's site. Follow Kathy's works-in-progress and interesting links on Twitter and Facebook and in the group DIY Homeschool. Watch the trailer for her online classes here!
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