Facing the Soccer Ball

Have you ever wondered how many shapes a soccer ball has on it? It has 12 pentagons (5-sided shapes) and 20 hexagons (6-sided shapes). Each pentagon, usually black, has 5 white hexagons around it. It turns out there are only 5 ways to fit together lots of identical shapes with all equal sides. That’s why soccer balls need to “cheat” a bit by mixing hexagons with pentagons…but they’re much easier to kick across the field!

Wee ones: See if you can count how many sides a pentagon has (the black shapes on the ball shown here)!

Little kids: If you kick the ball and your foot touches a pentagon and all 5 hexagons touching it, how many shapes did your foot touch?  Bonus: If you touched just that 1 pentagon, how many of the 12 pentagons did you *not* touch?

Big kids: Since the ball has 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons, how many faces does it have in total?  Bonus: If you can bounce the ball 13 times on your knee and then twice as many times off your foot, how many times in a row can you bounce the ball in the air?

The sky’s the limit: When someone makes a soccer ball, each shape edge is sewn together with another shape’s edge. How many of those lines does the maker sew in total? (Hint if needed: Every shape edge is shared with 1 other shape…)