05 Apr


In addition to the main, planned build at the Golden Gate STEM Fair, and thanks to donations of materials from Primed Minds, there was also a do-it-yourself/take-home table at the STEM Fair. Participants produced such towers as this one:

However, this column isn’t mainly about the inquisitive fun that participants at the take-home table had, or the specific structures they built, or the interesting fact that you can build oct-tet type configurations with rectangular solids of any proportions (not just cubes), even though all of those things are interesting and worthwhile. It’s about the fact that you can always learn something from anyone, and that inspiration can strike anywhere.

I ran headfirst into these facts after I had returned to Studio Infinity headquarters from the STEM Fair and was putting away all the materials from the take-home table that nobody had claimed. Fortunately, I had waited a day to do this and was feeling refreshed and less inclined to just toss materials in the garbage bin. When I opened up one of the construction units that a visitor to the table had made, my first reaction was “Oh, this person didn’t quite understand how to put the unit together.” But my second reaction was “Oh, this person put the unit together in a simpler, faster way than we were suggesting!” So the rest of this post is the recipe for “Boxtets v2.0: The Wisdom of Crowds.” (Compare to the original recipe for Boxtets.)

Boxtet v2.0
unassembled cardboard box
4 twist ties or pipe cleaners

Of course, the particular innovation documented here must have stemmed from some specific visitor or group of visitors working together; but since I have no way of knowing the particulars, I just have to credit the discovery to the “crowd.”

Begin to assemble the cardboard box as normal, but before closing up the bottom, insert two pipe cleaners each protruding from two corners. Select corners so that there is a reasonable length of the pipe cleaner protruding from the box at each end. Then seal up the bottom as normal. Pull the pipe cleaners taut on the inside, so an equal amount protrudes at each end. Similarly, before sealing the top, insert two pipe cleaners each protruding from two corners. Seal the box up the rest of the way, and you have a Boxtet, constructed much more quickly than before.



One caveat about using these Boxtets: if you only attach to one end of a given internal pipe cleaner, that pipe cleaner could pull out from its other end. So you may want to connect it to a wooden bead on the outside of the box if it’s not connected to anything else. Any pipe cleaner which is connected to other Boxtets on both ends will be fine.

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