Cool After School: Domes

by Vicky on February 28, 2011

For the February 23 Cool After School class, I introduced the kids to Rome’s Pantheon.  I was inspired by the book, The Pantheon, by Lesley DuTemple (in the Great Building Feats series).

We had not yet carried out any explorations of architecture, and I thought the kids would be intrigued by this building, which has been in continuous use since its construction in around 126 A.D. and whose dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. 

And the fact that the dome is open at the top (the oculus) is even more amazing!  The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, so the whole interior would fit exactly within a cube and could also house a sphere of the same diameter).

They jumped at the chance to construct a dome of their own!

We spent an hour rolling up newspaper struts and cutting them to size.  Then we went out into our shade garden and built a geodesic dome!

(Strictly speaking, we built a geodesic lattice structure, not a dome, since it was not enclosed.  Although he did not invent the geodesic dome, R. Buckminster Fuller popularized this type of structure and gave it its name.)

My friend Tamara, mother of Nate, commented, “I saw this project in a magazine and thought it looked really fun, but then I thought, ‘I would never attempt something like this…’”

With cooperation and teamwork, we built a very cool dome!

We used these instructions from Yes Mag.

Overheard comment by one of the kids: “They should do this at ¡Explora!“  ¡Explora! is a hands-on children’s museum whose mission just happens to be very similar to mine: Creating opportunities for inspirational discovery and the joy of lifelong learning through interactive experiences in science, technology, and art.

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