Matchstick model to find out why football has hexagons and polygons

Resource Info

Basic Information

You might have already seen Arvind Gupta explaining the basic shapes in mathematics (& simple organic molecules) by a matchstick model. They are easier to make and very important tools helping learners visually the structures spatially.

This discussion takes the theme further.

00 hours 45 mins

This activity can be done individually, in pairs or in a group of maximum 4 participants. The prerequisites for the session are:

  • Conceptually, the students know the structure of methane & have an idea of vectors
  • Mathematically, the students have exploited the properties of a triangle
  • Among others, they have the motor skills to use cutter safely



Apart from reinforcing the polygons, teacher encourages the learners to 

  • find out which models can stand on their bases
  • find out which models can withstand weight
  • check models have faces of 2 or more kind

A teaser for the students could be:

Why do the doors are in rectangular shape (and not triangular, for example)?

A bigger challenge for the students is why are hexagons and pentagons are used in the traditional design of a football? (They need to start with triangle and square models to try constructing a football)

Activity Steps: 
Step 1 Students are asked about various shapes they have seen in daily life and in their textbooks.
Step 2 They could be first shown some Matchstick models and what they can learn from it.
Step 3 Starting group work on the matchstick models, student(s) should remove the phosphor with the cutter. (Max.2 person in a group for this task)
Step 4 Cut the rubber by approximately just less than 2 cms. Enough for 2 sticks to go into it. (Max.2 person in a group for this task)
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