1-2 hours
Session 1 of 0
In Progress

Tabletop Tetrahedron

1-2 hours


Ages 11+

What Will You Learn?

A tabletop tetrahedron is like a mini pyramid. To build it, you need to construct lots of smaller tetrahedrons and stack them like building blocks. In mathematics, the model you are building is known as a fractal, a design made up of smaller copies of itself. Each tetrahedron is made of six struts made of rolled paper. To make a two-level pyramid, you need four smaller tetrahedrons, or 24 struts. A three-level tetrahedron takes eight smaller versions, or 48 paper struts. Want to add more levels? You do the math!

Roll the Paper

Step 1

For each tetrahedron building block, cut a sheet of copy paper into three pieces the long way. Then cut those three pieces in half the other way. You should end up with six pieces that are 3 3/4 inches wide by 4 1/4 inch long.

Step 2

Take the glue stick and apply an even layer of glue along one short end (you can also use white glue spread with a toothpick). Lay a bamboo skewer across the opposite end.

Step 3

Start to roll the paper up as tightly and smoothly as possible, keeping the ends even. When you reach the glued strip, press the paper roll closed for a few seconds with your hands.

Create Triangles

Step 4

When you have made six struts, pinch the ends flat and a little bent.

Step 5

Take three sticks and lay them flat in a triangle.

Step 6

Apply adhesive dots to the end of one strut and attach it to the end of the next strut. Do the same with the other corners.

Create a Tetrahedron

Step 7

Take three more struts and attach one end to each corner of the triangle.

Step 8

Take three more struts and attach one end to each corner of the triangle.

Create a Tetrahedron

Step 9

To keep adding to your tetrahedron fractal, make three more small structures. Place them on your work surface, corners touching, so that their bases form a larger triangle.

Step 10

Use adhesive dots to connect the corners that touch.

Step 11

Then put an adhesive dot on top of the tetrahedrons on the first level and place the fourth tetrahedron on top. If you wish, continue to add layers the same way.

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 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!