Geometry Construction: Polyhedral Playthings

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In this activity, learners create 3D geometric shapes using straws and pipe cleaners. Learners will discover that only certain combinations of two-dimensional shapes make polyhedrons, or regular three-dimensional shapes. This lesson guide includes step-by-step instructions with photos and various methods for constructing a variety of shapes. Learners can make elaborate shapes including: stellated dodecahedron; stellated cube; and stellated tetrahedron. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • Lots of straw pieces of identical length - 30 or so for each large polyhedron (Transparent straws show colors nicely)
  • Lots of pipe cleaners - 10 or so for each polyhedron
  • Colored string to hang polyhedrons
  • Side cutters
  • Scissors
  • Needle-nose pliers


  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
      • Solid Geometry
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Model Building
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop


  • All rights reserved, Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop, 2011