National Building Museum – Geodesic Dome

National Building Museum

LILI Unit: National Building Museum, Geodesic Dome

Essential Question:What is a geodesic dome, and why did Buckminster Fuller invent it? Pre-trip lesson:  To prepare for the National Building Museum’s “Geodesic Dome” program, students learn about basic architectural principles, such as which shape is the best at supporting weight.  Students explore how forces like compression and tension act on and support different structures.  They examine polyhedrons, compare them to two-dimensional shapes, and calculate volumes of some figures. They also learn about Buckminster Fuller and the advantages and disadvantages of the geodesic dome structure he developed.
Level of Difficulty:Medium Trip:   Students work together to construct a 6.5’ x 13’ geodesic dome using struts, wing nuts, washers, and rubber connectors.  They also learn about the Museum’s history and consider the advantages and disadvantages of its design.
Academic Standards:

  • English Language Arts (CC.6.R.I.2, CC.6.L.4.a)
  • Science (6.1.7)
Post-trip lesson:   Back in the classroom, students compete to complete a series of complex three-dimensional mind puzzles that require abstract thinking in order to solve them. Students also test their knowledge of architecture and forces such as compression, tension, and gravity as they compete in a collaborative review game and take written assessments.