What Zome Fun?
Technically, Zome tools are based on a version of the "61-zone structural system which includes "purely mathematical models from tilings to hyperspace projections, as well as molecular models of quasicrystals and fullerenes, and architectural space frame structures."
What a mouthfull! Basically, Zome tools allow (i.e. encourage) the hands-on exploration of geometry, algebra, chemistry, trigonometry, and math connections (e.g. art, nature). A Zome Tool kit includes the unique geometrical Zome's balls (nodes with triangles, squares, pentagons) and three lengths of struts, from which you build...and learn...refelct....and build...and learn, reflect, etc.
Supposedly, Zome tools are used in over 6,000 schools and institutions across the United States...grades 1 through 14. I do not know if that is true, but I do know that I have a Zome set...and most of our project teachers have a set....and they are great learning tools.
I especially like the tie-in with the golden proportion, in that I can build golden rectangles easily, which can then expand into 3D creations. Also, I can just sit down, start building, playing, reflecting...and the result is usually learning some interesting mathematics.
If you need a resource to prime you wiht some exploration ideas, I strongly recommend George Hart/Henri Picciotto's Zome Geometry:
Hands-on Learning with Zome Models (2001). Most of the text focuses on the standard geometry curricula, e.g., similarity and proportion, symmetry, relations between lengths and angles, coordinates, and polyhedra. Then, going beyond the standrad curriculum, the book opens up Zoom-based enrichment and project ideas, e.g., fractals, space structures, geodesic domes, and the fourth dimension.
It is important to add that Zomes are produced by an educational company...but they have a rich history based in architecture, via the creations of inventor/designer Steve Baer his wife Holly.
And finally, if you have the time to watch some videos on Zome Tool use, I suggest the twelve options on the Zome site...or a video-version of a tech-talk 2,3, 5, Infinity! (8/16/2006) given by Paul Hildebrandt, President of the Zometool company.