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tensegrity design for HS engineering class

On May 31, 2004

Subject: tensegrity design for HS engineering class


I work at the Museum of Science, Boston, where we’re developing a high school engineering class for 9th and 10th graders that will start being taught in around ten schools this September, and will hopefully expand beyond that.

One of the topics we’re covering is construction, which includes tension and compression. Since we’re making this a very hands-on course, I thought it would be cool to introduce students to Bucky Fuller’s ideas by having them design tents based on his (and Ken Snelson’s) ideas. When I searched Google for “tensegrity tents,” your wonderful designs came up.

If you have time, I’d love to talk to you about your tents, and any suggestions or references you might have for making tensegrity design accessible for high school students.

Thanks a lot. I’m really looking forward to talking to you.




What do you think about giving students Grip Clips for prototyping their tents for this engineering class? That might be easier for students to prototype with than using rocks and string (we can teach them that method too).

I think this is a good idea.

If we were going to use 4mm polyethylene sheeting (what’s it called? Visqueen?) and maybe PVC pipe as the basis of our tent “kit,” which clips would be good? General purpose?


How many would be good to have available for use in each tent? 4? 8?

If possible, I would make available a large bin of them. They are reusable. Will they get to keep their tents? (if so then you may want to limit the number you give, since you will not get them back, to say 10 or 12.) The more you give them the more options they have for creative construction.

And do you have bulk discounts?

100 for $150

I’ll order some after you tell me which ones would be best for this project.



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