Craft & Design Education Science
Math Monday: Office supplies

By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


For a true maker, any stock of unused office supplies is perceived as a challenge to make some kind of construction. Here is an icosahedrally symmetric geodesic sphere made from ninety paper fasteners. It was built by Rolando Pontalti of Trento, Italy, who also made last week’s construction of pencils—another popular office supply.


Paper clips also have great potential in this arena, so here is a challenge for you: the snub dodecahedron. At each vertex, there is one pentagon and four equilateral triangles. The image below is not a photo of a real object. It is just a computer rendering I made as a kind of design test, more than fifteen years ago. No one has yet fabricated a real one and sent me a photo. So if you can make a physical version from real paper clips, send us a picture and I’ll post it here in a future column.


What other mathematical constructions are you inspired to make from office supplies?

See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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