Introduction: Popsicle Tensegrity Toy

Tensegrity = Tension + Integrity

Step 1: Materials and Tools

  • 18 popsicle sticks
  • string
  • hot glue
  • cutter
  • sandpaper
  • ruler
  • cutting mat

Step 2: Popsicle Structure Overview

The design is made of two identical structures held together by three pieces of strings.

You will need 9 sticks to build one structure as pictured.

Step 3: Base

Get the A's

Glue the ends of the four sticks to make a square base

Step 4: Arm

Get the sticks for the B's. Mark and cut one at around 2/3 of its length. Use this first one to measure and cut all the part B's. What's important is that all part B's are of the same length.

Get a stick for part C. Mark the center and cut out a small notch from one side at the center mark. From the center, measure around 1 cm and cut the stick, this is part C.

Stick Part C in between the ends of the two B's where the notch is facing outward. This is the Arm.

Get the base from Step 1. Mark the center of one side of the base (choose the side where the popsicle stick is at the bottom). Then stick the arm upright on the base where you put the center mark. Make sure that it is perfectly upright by holding the piece for some time until the glue dries.

Step 5: Supports

Get two sticks and cut the D's. Use the length of part C to mark the cut. You should now have two pairs of segments as the D's. Make sure for each pair the segments are identical in length by sanding.

Get the base. Start with one side, place a long piece and a short piece on the base to the arm so they look nice and parallel. Glue them on. Copy the positions of the sticks on the other side.

The bottom structure is now complete.

Step 6: Repeat Steps 2-5 to Make the Upper Structure

Step 7: Strings

Middle String

Make a small loop out of your string, you may need to adjust this so don't lock it yet. Hook the loop on the notch of the bottom structure. While holding the upper structure upside down, hook the loop on the notch of the upper structure.

Adjust the length of the loop such that the upper structure doesn't touch the ground when the loop is pulled.

Side Strings
Get two long strings and attach one end of each to the corners of the base of the bottom structure. Loosely tie the other ends on the corresponding corners of the upper structure.

Step 8: Find the Equilibrium

Carefully adjust the lengths of the strings so that the tension of the strings can hold the upper structure afloat.

Once you get the right lengths, tighten the strings. You may also secure the knots to the structure with hot glue. Snip the excess strings and you're good to go!

Step 9: (Optional) Add a Coin Slot to Make It More Stable

Put some hot glue at the front side of the arm of the upper structure. This will serve as a stopper so you can rest a coin in.

Step 10: Congratulations!

Here's another version (Part B is shorter)

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