Rhombic Zonohedra!

The kids wanted to do a Zometool project for our Family Math project today and the “Rhombic Zonahedra” chapter in our “Zome Geometry” book caught my attention.    We learned about this book via Patrick Honner over the summer.  If you are interested in doing any projects with Zometool sets, it is a amazing resource.  If you also have access to a 3D printer, the combination of this book and the work that Laura Taalman has done on her blog (and on Thingiverse) is incredible.  Here’s the book, which you can get on the Zometool website:

Book Pic

I chose 3 of the projects from section on Rhombic Zonohedra for the kids to try for the Family Math project and one as an extra challenge to try after we finished.  They were having so much fun that they wanted to try the challenge of building a Rhombic Triacontahedron right away.  Made for a really fun morning.

Our first project was building a “rhombic hexahedron.”  Constructing this 3D shape from the Zome set wasn’t too hard.  We talked a little bit about what a rhombus is and then figured out how to make the two different types of rhombic hexahedrons that the book suggested you could make.  After constructing the two figures the boys noticed a few things about the shapes and then we showed Laura Taalman’s folding version of the rhombic hexahedron which you can find here:


Next we tried a different rhombohedron project out of the yellow Zome pieces.  The book said that there were two different types of yellow rhombus and that the fatter yellow rhombus could make two different types of rhombohedron.   So this was a fun exploration for the boys.  It was amazing to see how thin the “skinny” rhombohedron was.  It was also nice to see the boys mention that they could see both a cube and a hexagon in these shapes.

The next project was building a rhombic dodecahedron.  We had previously printed a few of these shapes when we saw them on Laura Taalman’s blog:


It is neat to be able to hold the shapes in your and had see how they can fit together to fill up all of 3 dimensional space.  The challenge here was to see if we could build a rhombic dodecahedron out of the Zome set now that we had a 3D printed model.  Even with the model to help, building this shape is a pretty good challenge for kids.   We didn’t get to the end in a perfectly straight line, but it was nice to see their approach to figuring out when they had the shape right and when they had some of the angles wrong.

The post Family Math challenge was to build a Rhombic Triacontahedron out of the Zometool set.  Of course Laura Taalman had a 3D print template for this shape!


We printed out a copy this morning and the boys spent about 15 minutes making it.  Unfortunately we ran out of long red struts, but they figured out how to fill in the rest with combinations of short and medium struts.  As I mentioned at the beginning, they were so caught up in this project that they wanted to do this challenge right away.  It is amazing how much fun you can have with 3D geometry projects these days!

Rhombic Triacontahedron


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