It is summer and among the various tasks I am assigned by my wife, family, and the community, I am still finding ways to include math in these tasks some how. I have been fascinated with geodesic domes lately and found this great geodesic dome calculator http://www.desertdomes.com/domecalc.html. It is the first site that pops up when you Google search “geodesic dome calculator.” I love math, but am really more interested in what we as humans can do with it in a practical sense. My fascination with these structures began when I stumbled across the site with my new phone. After seeing several of these online I decided to build my own. I am new to the world of geodesic domes so I started with a 1V structure, which is a structure with one strut length. A 2v is totally constructed with two strut lengths, 3v has 3 strut lengths, etc.
My first model began at Camp Augustine boyscout camp in Grand Island, Nebraska. Each year I go to boyscout camp with my son and while the boys are at various classes I am left alone at camp with several thousand feet of basil twine and about 5 days with nothing to do. This year I decided to pick up sticks around camp and make one of these structures with approximately 2 foot struts and lashings. For a 1v structure it takes 25 sticks. I placed five of them in a regular pentagon shape and lashed them together. Then off of each of these struts I lashed four more struts. So this make six vertices with five struts lashed together. At this point I had to start raising the structure. Then you take two of the struts and lash them to two more making five vertices with four struts lashed together. Keeping the lashings tight is critical, but I waited until I had a rough looking structure up and then tightened the lashings. All of this took me about four hours working alone with a pair of nippers and a knife.
Once I had this model built we burnt it in the Friday night fire, and it was time to make something bigger and more useful. My son and I are avid hunters and I keep chickens, so I thought these would make great structures for chicken houses and hunting ground blinds. I also have been cutting cedar trees to clean up a pasture and built fence. I hate to waste anything, so with these cedars I make 6 foot posts out of the trunk but then I have a bunch of limbs left over. So I cut these limbs into approximately five foot pieces. Once I had 25 of them I drilled 1/4 inch holes in each end of the sticks and wired them together just like my boyscout dome. So far this structure is not very rigid because of the wire and I may reinforce each vertex with something else, but for now the structure is built and ready to be covered. For the chicken houses I will cover the top with plywood and the sides with wire mesh laying around the farm. So it definitely will have that Mad Max look to it, but should be very useful. I love this project because you don’t have to be a math genius to build something mathematically beautiful and useful.