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A physics teacher explains tensegrity sculptures with LEGO

You don’t need LEGO to create a tensegrity sculpture, but tensegrity sculptures are now a super popular challenge to build with LEGO. There are dozens of different designs online, created by LEGO enthusiasts who figured out the tension, moments, equilibrium, and the center of gravity of their builds.

In this Beyond the Brick video, physics teacher and Physics Online YouTuber Lewis Matheson explains how tensegrity sculptures seem to defy gravity as they balance. From Wikipedia:

Tensegrity, tensional integrity or floating compression is a structural principle based on a system of isolated components under compression inside a network of continuous tension, and arranged in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other while the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially.

The term was coined by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s as a portmanteau of “tensional integrity”. The other denomination of tensegrity, floating compression, was used mainly by the constructivist artist Kenneth Snelson.

tensegrity LEGO physics explanation
Matheson’s YouTube channel focuses on modeling physics concepts with LEGO for high school students, specifically GCSE and A Level Physics in the United Kingdom. Even if you’re new to the physics concepts and vocabulary, if you give it a watch, the sculptures make more sense.

Plus, here are a few examples of LEGO tensegrity sculptures. Builders below include Jørn Støylen, Physics Lens, Staz The Little Builder, @bigmateowski and @jakesadovich.

Explore more #LEGOtensegrity builds on Instagram and watch how JKBrickworks creates one brick by brick.

Bonus: Exploring Space with Shape-Shifting Tensegrity Robots.

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