You would never guess that a bunch of tiny little metal balls could turn into mindblowing art. But as this video shows, when all those teeny balls are magnets, they stick together to make amazing shapes. They’re called Nanodots. First the hands make lots of hexagons, then stacks them to make an “octahedron” – a 3D shape with 8 faces (just like an octagon is a flat shape with 8 sides). The octahedron is just one of 5 cool chunky shapes you can make where every face is the same shape with all equal edges: it has 8 triangles. Then the hands make a dodecahedron, which has 12 pentagons as faces. Watch to see what else the Nanodots can make!
Wee ones: How many sides does a triangle have? Hold your hands together to make a triangle hole with your fingers and thumbs!
Little kids: How many sides does a pentagon have? Bonus: If you’ve made 10 of the 12 pentagons to make the dodecahedron, how many more do you need to make?
Big kids: Each triangle in the octahedron has 7 Nanodots in the longest row, with 6 Nanodots above that, 5 above that…all the way to 1. How many Nanodots does one triangle have in total? Bonus: The opening shows 3 octahedrons already made. How many triangle faces do they have altogether?
The sky’s the limit: If each octahedron face has 7 Nanodots on the edge, then 6 in the next row up, and so on, how many dots in that triangle aren’t on the edge? See if you can figure it out without counting them in the picture!
Wee ones: Make a triangle with your hands! It has 3 sides.
Little kids: 5 sides. Bonus: 2 more pentagons.
Big kids: 28 Nanodots. Bonus: 24 triangle faces.
The sky’s the limit: Just 10 Nanodots. Only the 4 middle dots in the row of 6, plus the 3 middle ones above that, 2 above that, and finally the last one (the middle dot in the row of 3).
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.