Alquimétricos: Opensource DIY/DIT building blocks systems – SCOPES-DF

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
8.G.A4, 8.G.A5, 8.G.B6, 8.G.B7, 8.G.A1, 8.G.A1b, 8.G.A1c, 8.G.A3, 7.G.B5, 6.G.A2, 6.G.A4, 5.G.B3, 4.G.A1, 4.G.A2, 3.G.A1, 3.G.A2, 2.G.A1, 2.G.A2, 2.G.A3, 1.G.A1, 1.G.A2, K.G.A1, K.G.A2, K.G.A3, K.G.B4, K.G.B5, K.G.B6
Additional Contributors

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Fernando Daguanno


Fabrication of a basic geodesic structure building block system kit using simple handcraft tools and recycled materials and bamboo sticks. The activity is targeted low income community classrooms educators, families and children and is designed to keep the economical, technological and cultural entry barrier as low as possible, allowing a high scalability.

What You'll Need

Materials needed

  • Cardboard or MDF for the templates
  • Bamboo sticks (barbecue sticks, rods for kites, raffia sticks for perfume diffuser, etc.). 1 pack of 50 serves a geodesic and a half if you use the total length, or 3 geodesics if you cut them in halves. 
  • Elastic bands, preferably those silicone small ones that are used to knit Rainbow Loom bracelets or to tie the hair. Alternatively you can use conventional elastic bands.
  • Connectors:
  • EVA rubber 3 to 5 mm thick 
  • or truck/car/motorcycle/bicycle rubber tube
  • or milk box / juice


Tools needed

  • Punch hole pliers
  • Cutting pliers or pruning shears 
  • Big scissors 
  • Pilot marker or pen



  • Manual Livre Alquimétricos, this guide, Instructional zines or PPT with step-by-step instructions


The Instructions

Classroom organization

A place where it is possible to take advantage of the technological infrastructure - as a workshop with a workbench, machines and analogue and digital manufacturing tools.

As hands-on activity, the intention is to prepare the space for quick access to materials and tools. 

It is recommended to organize the participants in groups so they can share resources, besides being able to see and interact with the work of each others. 

The tools and materials will be distributed among the groups. Alternatively, the entire stock of materials and tools can be organized on an additional central or side table so that participants can approach and choose which one to use.




Additional documentation of the project and this activity is available to download and share with the community on the website www.alquimetricos. com and in the community repository, Prepare the photo or video camera (a smartphone is usually enough) and try to document the activities of the pre-production, the step-by-step during the class and the final results.

If you use recycled materials, these may need some treatment: rubber tube or milk/juice boxes should be cut opened, washed and dried before starting. All recycled material should be clean and dry, such as advertising banner or truck tarpaulin. If you use blue jeans or denim fabric, these should be glued with white vinyl glue and dry at least 2 days before the activity. If you use EVA rubber and you do not get 4 mm or more, you can use 2 glued layers of 2mm, which also need to dry for at least 2 days before they are available for use.

The templates are the next pre-production that has to be done. You can download the vector files and cut with laser cutter, router or plotter, if you have access to this type of equipment and plate MDF, acrylic, paper or cardboard. Use our repository You can also print the designs, paste and/or copy on a material such as cardboard to cut with scissors and make holes with the punch pliers. Ideally, produce the pair of pentagonal and hexagonal template per person. If you can not, produce one set of templates per group and start the activity by multiplying the templates in cardboard. To finalize the preproduction, prepare a visual guide to facilitate the autonomous production process of each group. Our assembly zines available in the repository

Everything ready to start the activity? Prepare the tools, materials and instructions in the space. The guides can be printed on paper, projected on a screen or also drawn on the blackboard. To begin, make a brief introduction of the objectives of the activity, allow the participants to introduce themselves (if they don’t known each other yet) and present their work context. Explain basic hygiene and safety measures and how tools are used correctly.


The actual activity is concretely started by marking the material using the template and a pilot marker. You can mark the holes in 1 every 2 or 3 connectors. When you are going to punch hole, you can stack several layers of connectors; counter-intuitively, it is simpler to punch several connections at the same time. You will need 12 pentagons to create an icosahedron.

Cut the connectors with the large scissors if the material allows it. Use the pruning shears if the material is very resistant.

Stack 2 to 4 connectors together and punch where the circles are marked.

We continue with the sticks: we need 30 units to mount an icosahedron. Cut the tips and decide if you will use the stick in the total length or if you will use, for example, half length. There is a 1:2 ratio between the length of the stick and the diameter of the icosahedron; For example, with sticks 25 cm long, you can mount an icosahedron 50 cm in diameter, approximately.

Assembly: Explain how the stick is inserted through the two holes of each connector and optionally hold using the elastic bands.

Follow the assembly instructions: first with a connector and a stick

Then 4 sticks in the remaining holes

Next, insert another 5 connectors at the ends of those sticks

Follow with another 5 sticks between the available connectors to reach the pentagonal base pyramid. To maintain the logic of the geometry of the icosahedron, do not skip holes

Continue adding 10 sticks in the previous connectors

Add another 5 connectors to reach the height of the icosahedron

Insert 5 more sticks into the connectors that have just been integrated to complete the dome or geodesic dome

With 5 more sticks and a connector, finish the construction of the icosahedron or geodesic sphere of frequency 1. Congratulations, your first Alquimétricos geodesic structure is ready!

Make a final conversation with the participants to share their impressions and experiences of the class. Identify what use each teacher would give to this didactic resource and invite them to reproduce the process with their classes and colleagues.


Step 1 – Prepare the materials. If you use recycled materials, these should be cut opened, washed and dried before the start of the activity.



Step 2 – Prepare the templates by printing and gluing this design on 3 mm cardboard or MDF, or cutting as many connectors as you want directly with the laser cutter or cutting plotter .

Step 3 – Prepare the room for easy access to materials and tools

Step 4 – Mark the material using the template or other alquimétricos connector that is ready

Step 5 – Cut the material with scissors

Step 6 – Punch the connectors with pliers. You can stack several layers to save time and effort.

Step 7 – Cut the tips of the sticks and adjust the measurement according to the desired size of icosahedron

Tips and notes on the implementation

Better read this to avoid lose of time, materials and participants attention!!

  • Where possible, use workshop or makerspace equipped with workbench and digital manufacturing tools – these will be of great help, mainly to make semiautomatic production of larger size or number of connectors. But the activity can be carried out without problems using only scissors and punch pliers (typical punching tool leather)
  • Train the methodology at least once before giving the class. There are many technical details that are only perceived in practice – it is best not to discover what the challenges will be with the participants in the room at the time of the activity.
  • Punching may require strength in the hands. It is advisable to make a circular movement with the material at the time of punching to help the perforation. Activity with children may require additional assistance from adults or have the parts ready so they do not get frustrated. You can also use other tools for drilling, such as paper punch.
  • Only use bamboo brochette sticks without splinters. The wooden ones break very easily and ruin the activity. If you are going to use a larger scale, you can use cylindrical wooden rods from 4 to 10 mm.
  • When materials are recycled, such as tetrapack, it is advisable to use a double hexagon or double pentagon design folded in half so that both sides of the connector that are exposed are the best looking (silver). First mark, cut and fold, then punch
  • The holes in the templates must be larger than the actual connector hole so the pen marks the material with ease
  • If you are going to use a laser cutter, remember that some materials can be toxic, such as advertising banner and any other vinyl. Avoid cutting these materials with lasers!
  • When using EVA rubber think of a 1:1 ratio between the thickness of the material and the hole diameter. For example, for connectors 6 cm in diameter and sticks 3-4 mm in diameter, use EVA 3-6 mm thick. For 10-15 cm diameter connectors, use 8-10 mm diameter and EVA 8-12 mm thick sticks.
  • The elastic bands are optional. It depends on the type of material used, on the adjustment ratio between the diameter of the hole and the stick. There are cases where it is unnecessary, and there are others where the connections stay loose without them.
  • This is just the beginning: Alquimétricos world has no end! Build all kinds of structures, cars, castles, dolls, bugs and more! Once you have mastered the technique, you can add electronics: motors, servomotors, LEDs, arduinos, etc. Create robots and make them the perfect resource to teach technology, arts and science.
  • Activity should last for 90-120 minutes, half dedicated in the production of the connectors, half in the assembly of the icosahedron. You can add or decrease as necessary.



Like all maker activity, the construction of the final object shows the success of the process. However, there are intermediate instances of evaluation

  • Correct use of tools
  • Efficient use of materials
  • Follow-up of the production and/or assembly procedure
  • Finishing of connectors, chopsticks and constructions made from them
  • Participation and teamwork



  • (8.G.A4): Understand that a two-dimensional figure is similar to another if the second can be obtained from the first by a sequence of rotations, reflections, translations, and dilations; given two similar two-dimensional figures, describe a sequence that exhibits the similarity between them.
  • (8.G.A5): Use informal arguments to establish facts about the angle sum and exterior angle of triangles, about the angles created when parallel lines are cut by a transversal, and the angle-angle criterion for similarity of triangles. For example, arrange three copies of the same triangle so that the sum of the three angles appears to form a line, and give an argument in terms of transversals why this is so.
  • (8.G.B6): Explain a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem and its converse.
  • (8.G.B7): Apply the Pythagorean Theorem to determine unknown side lengths in right triangles in real-world and mathematical problems in two and three dimensions.
  • (8.G.A1): Verify experimentally the properties of rotations, reflections, and translations:
  • (8.G.A1b): Angles are taken to angles of the same measure.
  • (8.G.A1c): Parallel lines are taken to parallel lines.
  • (8.G.A3): Describe the effect of dilations, translations, rotations, and reflections on two-dimensional figures using coordinates.
  • (7.G.B5): Use facts about supplementary, complementary, vertical, and adjacent angles in a multi-step problem to write and solve simple equations for an unknown angle in a figure.
  • (6.G.A2): Find the volume of a right rectangular prism with fractional edge lengths by packing it with unit cubes of the appropriate unit fraction edge lengths, and show that the volume is the same as would be found by multiplying the edge lengths of the prism. Apply the formulas V = l w h and V = b h to find volumes of right rectangular prisms with fractional edge lengths in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.
  • (6.G.A4): Represent three-dimensional figures using nets made up of rectangles and triangles, and use the nets to find the surface area of these figures. Apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.
  • (5.G.B3): Understand that attributes belonging to a category of two-dimensional figures also belong to all subcategories of that category. For example, all rectangles have four right angles and squares are rectangles, so all squares have four right angles.
  • (4.G.A1): Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures.
  • (4.G.A2): Classify two-dimensional figures based on the presence or absence of parallel or perpendicular lines, or the presence or absence of angles of a specified size. Recognize right triangles as a category, and identify right triangles.
  • (3.G.A1): Understand that shapes in different categories (e.g., rhombuses, rectangles, and others) may share attributes (e.g., having four sides), and that the shared attributes can define a larger category (e.g., quadrilaterals). Recognize rhombuses, rectangles, and squares as examples of quadrilaterals, and draw examples of quadrilaterals that do not belong to any of these subcategories.
  • (3.G.A2): Partition shapes into parts with equal areas. Express the area of each part as a unit fraction of the whole. For example, partition a shape into 4 parts with equal area, and describe the area of each part as 1/4 of the area of the shape.
  • (2.G.A1): Recognize and draw shapes having specified attributes, such as a given number of angles or a given number of equal faces.1 Identify triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes.
  • (2.G.A2): Partition a rectangle into rows and columns of same-size squares and count to find the total number of them.
  • (2.G.A3): Partition circles and rectangles into two, three, or four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halves, thirds, half of, a third of, etc., and describe the whole as two halves, three thirds, four fourths. Recognize that equal shares of identical wholes need not have the same shape.
  • (1.G.A1): Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.
  • (1.G.A2): Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.1
  • (K.G.A1): Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.
  • (K.G.A2): Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size.
  • (K.G.A3): Identify shapes as two-dimensional (lying in a plane, "flat") or three-dimensional ("solid").
  • (K.G.B4): Analyze and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes, in different sizes and orientations, using informal language to describe their similarities, differences, parts (e.g., number of sides and vertices/"corners") and other attributes (e.g., having sides of equal length).
  • (K.G.B5): Model shapes in the world by building shapes from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.
  • (K.G.B6): Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes. For example, "Can you join these two triangles with full sides touching to make a rectangle?"