A Workshop to Build Three Simple Tensegrity Models for K-12 Mathematics Classrooms

Robert McDermott
Proceedings of Bridges 2009: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2009)
Pages 403–408 Workshop Papers


In this workshop, participants will build two styles of models. One style of model is built from sticks, and vinyl tubing. This first model will determine lengths of struts and lines, and will also be extensively labeled to help in building finished tensegrity models. A second style of model will be built from PVC pipe, PVC sleeves, and bungee cord. Additional printed information will be provided to help build the finished tensegrity models.

Building physical models [1], [2], [3], and writing about the building process, continues to be my focus. Most recently, I have chosen to build tensegrity models, and to provide clear instructions to help build them from PVC pipes, PVC sleeves, and bungee cords. I have constructed preliminary models from sticks and vinyl tubing, and labeled them extensively in order to assist in the building of the final PVC models. The final models take a considerable amount of time and resources to build. It has been important that the models be durable so they can be handled by students through a number of years, and be of a reasonable size so that they can be seen by 20–30 students in a classroom. Each tensegrity model has an interesting set of spatial properties and is engaging as a physical object.