Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Arches and Domes


A trip to the dollar store yielded the next medium with which to build - plastic drinking straws.  Straight for the most part, bendy near the top, and relatively flexible as a building material, straws helped us to take our dome models to the next stage.  How would they work as columns for our domes?  Would they be strong enough?

Using what they had learned from their Wikki Stix designs, 
the students began anew with straws and plasticene:

T. and L. get to work on designing their building with a series of arches


What will keep the roof from falling down?  

N.S.'s design incorporates two arches to create a roof - but is it a dome?

N.B.:  I used a ring on the bottom for support, so that the building won’t fall down.
M:  You might need a buttress if it’s falling over.

E.S. and E.K. put a plasticene roof on their building, but is it a dome? 

They went back to revise their thinking and turned their “fried egg” top into a dome by curving the ends of their roof like a bowl. They then looked inside the “bowl” to make sure it was right.  Later, when they affixed the roof to their structure, they again looked up into the dome to see if it would work.

Above:  E.S. and E.K. worked together on their model. 
E.S. shows how nerve-wracking it can be to keep a dome supported.  

M:  You have to make it so it's not top heavy.
E.S.:  The plasticene is heavy and the straws are light,
so if you put heavy materials on top, it might not last for years and years. 

Are you making an arch or a dome?
The girls noticed that most of the domes they had tried looked more like arches – and then A.L. had an epiphany: 
A.L.:  An arch is in the shape of a rainbow and a dome is a hemisphere!
A.C., who had been working exclusively to make arches took it from there –  “You could combine a  lot of arches to make a dome….you could lay arches on top of each other…you might have to weave them.”

P.  made use of the bendy part of the drinking straw (near the top of the structure)and used it to make the bend of the arch.
L. was inspired to try creating N.B.’s tent-like design, which then generated a discussion about copying.  Was it a copy?  E.S. noted that both buildings had generally the same shape, but different sizes – 
L. made a taller one, and N.B. made a shorter on. 

Is copying a good thing or a bad thing?  
It is said that Picasso once stated that good artists copy; 
great artists steal. ...
N.B.:  Being inspired means you see a good idea, but you copy it in a different style.  Getting an idea from another person and making a similar thing.


L.’s taller structure fell over as we talked.  T. encouraged her to “keep trying!” 
L.:  When it doesn’t work, sometimes you want to give up, and sometimes you want to keep going. 

[above]:  G. and J. working on their pieces, 
while discussing the differences between teepes, arches, and domes
W. and J. look at J's dome - the "columns" are clustered
closely together and taped to add to its structural integrity
I., T., and R.'s plan (as recorded by I.)
Some of our domes stayed up...


...while others collapsed.


[above]:  C. and N.S. working on their dome piece

After the children finished this last round of model making, they talked about their thoughts and observations and revealed new thinking about architectural forms:


What makes a dome different from an arch?

I:   A dome is like a 3 dimensional circle.  It’s a semi-circle

T:  It’s a hemisphere.  It’s cut in half. 

Can this be a dome? 
(we drew on a clear plastic container to think more
about how arches and domes relate)

A.L.:  You have to be like looking inside of the bowl.
T:  You have to be like digging out the stuff that makes it solid [instead of simply putting a lump of plasticene on the top - you need to make it hollow].


J:  It’s like a pot.

M:  It’s hollow.
T:  It’s not solid anymore.
M:  It’s not piled on top of each other.

P:  We didn’t know if we should call it a dome or an arch.  A dome is a lot more like round.  And an arch is like, a rectangle is skinny, and an arch goes skinny.  A dome is wider.


M:  The dome closes in, it’s not like a bridge.  An arch is maybe like a bridge. 


T:  An arch looks like a rainbow bridge.

M:  They are both the same shape but one is more three-dimensional.  A dome is the same shape but fatter.


L:  For some reason it looks like they're twins.  Because they are both round at the top. 


C:  But an arch is usually bigger than a dome.  An arch could be taller.

P:  They are kind of related because they both are curved at the top but a dome is fatter and an arch is skinnier.
What are you noticing about how the arches relate to the dome?
I:  They (the arches) are being all connected to make it more three dimensional every time you add an arch over the other arches.  Yes, I’m making arches, but if I keep making them over and over each other, I get a dome.

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