The Challenge: Fold yourself a 6 piece puzzle that comes together as a 3D star shape. You’ll need 6 pieces of paper.
The Background: This is a bit of a hodge-podge of things. First, it’s origami. I followed these PDF instructions, and then made this video for those who may need the visual aid.
Where the puzzle originated is a bit of a mystery. The name “burr” is likely to come from the finished shape of these puzzles – resembling a seed burr. There are examples of it in Chinese print, and an English engraving, and similar puzzles making a resurgence in Kerala called Edakoodam. I’ve had this one on my list for months now, and was surprised to see the variety of burr puzzles out there. I know that I have some (in my quarantined and inaccessible classroom right now) that I have yet to solve. I love the idea of the puzzle being in how to make wooden pieces (a more traditional medium than origami for these) manipulable while appearing, when put together, to be immovable.
- How does the folding transform a 2D shape into a 3D one? What supports are there?
- Are there other ways for the 6 pieces to go together?
- How can this teach us about the benefits (or drawbacks) of precision when we’re folding the pieces?
- What do you notice about the final structure? How could you describe the structure to someone who could not see it?
- These puzzles are frequently (traditionally?) wooden, what is gained or lost by making them from origami?