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In this math lesson, learners identify the relationship between the number of sides in a regular polygon and the number of struts needed to make each polygon rigid. Learners build polygons using strips of paper and paper fasteners to explore the attributes of triangles, rectangles, pentagons, and hexagons. From their explorations, learners discern that triangles form the only rigid polygon. Learners are then challenged to determine the least number of struts or supports they would need to add to the rectangles, pentagons, and hexagons to make them rigid. Learners record their findings in a chart and look for patterns. They use the pattern to state a rule that shows the relationship between the number of sides in a polygon and the number of struts needed to make it rigid. To further reinforce these concepts, learners make a graph showing this relationship. Learners use the graph to predict the number of struts needed to make different polygons rigid. Finally, the group discusses the relationship between the number of sides of a polygon and the number of triangles formed by the struts. Learners look for a pattern in order to make a generalization.
 45 to 60 minutes
 45 to 60 minutes
 $1  $5 per group of students
 Ages 8  11
 Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan
 English
Quick Guide
Materials List (per group of students)
 Large summary chart
 Large sheet of graph paper
 Polygon models made from paper strips and fasteners (Activity Sheet: Template PageStrips)
 Strips of paper, 1 cm x 7 cm, with one hole punched close to each end (using heavier weight, i.e. manila folders)
 Plastic bags for paper strips
 Strips of paper, 1 cm x 30 cm, with holes punched on one end of each strip (see Activity Sheet: Template PageStruts)
 Paper fasteners (1/2 inch)
 Scissors
 Sheets of graph paper (Activity Sheet: Graph Grids)
 Several hole punchers
 Student journals
Subjects

Mathematics

Algebra
 Patterns

Data Analysis and Probability
 Data Analysis
 Data Collection
 Data Representation

Geometry
 Plane Geometry

Measurement
 Polygons
 Reasoning and Proof

Algebra

The Nature of Technology

The Design Process
 Problem Solving

The Design Process
Audience
To use this activity, learners need to:
 see
 read
 touch
Learning styles supported:
 Involves handson or lab activities
Other
This resource is part of:
Access Rights:
 Free access
By:
Rights:
 All rights reserved, PBS, 2012
Funding Source:
 US Department of Education