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The Kid Should See This

How to make a DIY cardboard planetarium and projector

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What can you do if you’d like a small planetarium room for your school, but the price is outside of your budget? Billings, Montana science teacher Craig Beals ran into this problem in 2016 and decided to team up with fellow high school science teacher Catherine Combs to make a Cardboard Planetarium Project for their science and geometry classes. He writes:

“While doing research for the project I found information about building large-scale geodesic domes at Desert Domes, which proved to be a great starting point to figure out dimensions of different frequency domes.”

small scale domes

“Students then scaled up the dimensions for a 4V (frequency) dome. This type of dome required 6 pentagons, 5 full hexagons and 5 half hexagons (information below). We chose this configuration because it meant we only needed to cut out two different types of triangles: Pentagon triangles with sides labeled AAB and Hexagon triangles labeled BCC (information below). We bought a pallet of corrugated cardboard with white on one side and cardboard brown on the other, made some templates and began cutting triangles.”

students fitting the dome together

“Initially we had planned to use extra large 1 inch binder clips to hold the structure together but this proved to be fatal two times. The entire dome collapsed as binder clips slid off the cardboard and went shooting across the room. With two fails under our belt, we had to rethink our plan.

“Eventually I found Mr. McGroovy Cardboard Rivets online, and they proved to be just the tool needed to get our massive dome built. It takes a team of people to hold, rivet, add a triangle, hold, rivet, repeat, but it is well worth the effort!”


Visit his site for pdfs of the Cardboard Planetarium Plans, the Cardboard Planetarium Layout, a materials list, and more information about how they set up a planetarium projector from a convex mirror, projector, and computer.

“The planetarium and projector system works perfectly with Stellarium, StarWalk, and any warped planetarium video.”

Find all links and notes here on BealsScience.com.

cardboard planetarium
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