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Tensegrity Structures

Published April 9, 2020.

Soda Straw Tensegrity Structures

SAFETY FIRST!

Always make sure to wash your hands before starting the project. And remember to HAVE FUN!

Materials Needed
  • 15 plastic soda straws
  • 60 small paper clips
  • 30 rubber bands
  • Scissors

 

What is it?

Assembled tensegrity structures are polyhedral forms which vividly illustrate separate forces of
tension and compression. The plastic straws provide compression and the rubber bands provide
tension, allowing them to jiggle and be squeezed!

What to Do

1. Gather all your materials
2. Cut one straw in half (8-inch straw to make 4-inch struts)
3. Assemble the first strut: pass the rubber band into the larger end of a paper clip and
stick the small end of the clip into one end of a half straw.
4. Pass the rubber band through a second paper clip which gets inserted at the other end
of the straw (if the rubber band is hanging loose after this, it is too long and you will
need shorter rubber bands OR if the rubber band seems too tight from tension, get
longer rubber bands or cut the straws shorter)
5. Next build the second strut and link it to the first one
6. Repeat this with three more struts and link them similarly to close a 5-sided loop
7. Next add five outward pointing struts, each of which connect to the 5-sided loop in two
places
8. The pentagon and five outward struts of the above steps provide three of the five sides
for the next five pentagons surrounding the central pentagon
9. Finish each of these five pentagons and you can see half of your complete
dodecahedron
10. REMEMBER! Complete each loop of struts to have 5 sides
11. Continue to build pentagons for the second half in a similar manner until complete
12. REMEMBER! Each rubber band contacts four others – at the ends and at the 1/3 and 2/3
points
13. Every endpoint spiral into a little triangle going in the same direction (either all
clockwise or all counterclockwise – this is up to you!)
14. When you’re done, adjust the struts so they meet each other close to the 1/3 and 2/3
points and you’re finished!

Let’s see your creation! Show us what you’ve created by tagging us on social media or emailing
us at camp.in@campquality.org