Students create their own Tetrahedron Kite using tissue paper, straws and string.
This is a perfect science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) project. Research the advantages of wind energy as a natural, renewable resource. Understand how the sun provides energy to drive convection, heating the atmosphere and creating wind. Students conduct scientific investigations to explore wind energy, by assembling and flying kites created from tetrahedrons. Explore the technology of kites and determine ways to make the tetrahedron kite more aerodynamic. Calculate speed and velocity over several trials. Students may also use these tetrahedrons to create Sierpinski triangles. Challenge students to create unique kite designs using any desired pattern and assortment of materials.
Use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts to create Tetrahedron Kites and investigate wind energy.
Supplies Used: Tissue Paper, Straws, Kite String, Rubber Cement or similar adhesive
The teacher will die-cut the materials for student use prior to the lesson.
Assembling the Frame
- Cut 12 strings - 4 strings at 3 feet long and 8 strings at two feet long.
- Six 7-3/4" long straws are required for each tetrahedron, a total of 24 straws for each kite.
- Thread one of the 3' strings through three straws and tie knots to create a triangle with these straws. Tie double knots for strength and leave the excess string long for kite assembly.
- Tie one of the 2' lengths of string to one of the triangle joints. Thread the string through two straws and pull them around to create a rhombus. Tie securely. Leave the excess string (Figure A).
- Tie two of the 2' strings, one string at each joint where there are no strings. Loose strings must be at each corner of the rhombus.
- Thread one of the strings through a straw and pull it up and tie a double knot to form the 3-D tetrahedron shape (Figure B).
- Repeat steps 3 through 6 three more times. A total of four tetrahedrons is required to complete one kite.
Covering the Frame
- Fold tissue paper in half. It must be large enough when folded to cover the XL Tetrahedron Kite die. Place the folded edge on the die where the cutting blade stops. Place a strip of masking tape on the rubber side of the die to act as a guide for paper placement. Trim any excess tissue from the sides before cutting. Cut four Tetrahedron Kite pieces (Figure C).
- Open up the tissue and place adhesive in the seam along the fold.
- Place the tetrahedron shape with one straw along the adhesive. Spread adhesive on both tissue flaps, wrap the flaps around each straw and press them down (Figure D).
- Rotate the tetrahedron so that the straw triangle sits on the remaining tissue. Spread adhesive on both tissue flaps and wrap the flaps around each straw and press them down. Only two faces of the Tetrahedron are covered with tissue.
- Repeat steps 8 through 10 three times. Four tissue covered tetrahedrons are required to make one kite (see Main Photo).
- Figure A
- Figure B
- Figure C
- Figure D
Pre-K-12: Instructional programs from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships.
- In Pre-Kindergarten through grade 2, all students should recognize, name, build, draw, compare and sort two- and three-dimensional shapes.
- In grades 3-5, all students should identify, compare, and analyze attributes of two- and three-dimensional shapes and develop vocabulary to describe the attributes.
- In grades 6-8, all students should understand relationships among the angles, side lengths, perimeters, areas and volumes of similar objects.
- In grades 9-12, all students should use trigonometric relationships to determine lengths and angle measures.
Pre-K-12: Instructional programs from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to use visualization, spatial reasoning and geometric modeling to solve problems.
- In Pre-Kindergarten through grade 2, all students should recognize geometric shapes and structures in the environment and specify their location.
- In grades 3-5, all students should use geometric models to solve problems in other areas of mathematics, such as number and measurement.
- In grades 6-8, all students should recognize and apply geometric ideas and relationships in areas outside the mathematics classroom, such as art, science and everyday life.
- In grades 9-12, all students should visualize three-dimensional objects and spaces from different perspectives and analyze their cross sections.
Standards are listed with permission from Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, copyright 2000 by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). NCTM does not endorse the content or validity of these alignments.