Art, Fabrication, and the Endover Puzzle

Also known as “The Cube,” the Endover sculpture is a kinetic, geometric piece of art that is located on the campus of the University of Michigan. The picture below shows Endover, but its moving elements are best seen in this video.

I built a 3D puzzle inspired by the Endover sculpture. The video that follows shows the puzzle being created on an Up! 3D printer. The pieces of the puzzle were built in FabLab ModelMaker and, when fabricated, combine to form a cube like Endover (see 00:48 to skip to the the final cube).

I envision a couple of engineering tasks hidden within the replication of a scaled, puzzle-like version of Endover. These engineering tasks may or may not be appropriate for elementary students, but I am currently in the brainstorming/prototyping phase. My partner teacher, Paula White, wants to develop some lessons that focus on spatial visualization, surface area, and volume.

  1. The creation of a 3D puzzle that, when completed, forms a cube. Paula White and I have developed a preliminary activity that uses colored cm cubes to scaffold the creation of digital and physical puzzles like the one in the video.
  2. The creation of a 3d puzzle that, when completed, forms a cube that can balance on one of its vertices. This would definitely be an advanced engineering design task, because it focuses on both the parts as well as additional design criteria and scientific concepts like gravity and friction.

In the meantime, I need to figure out if I can create an Endover puzzle that can balance on a vertex. The one in the video does not!

I put my design on Thingiverse if you want to 3D print a version of your own.

  1. Andy PerkinsAndy Perkins12-02-2011

    Get in touch if you want to talk Soma Cube solutions. My grandfather is obsessed with it and has developed curriculum for 5th graders on making a taxonomy of all the solutions.

  2. kjellwr4kjellwr412-05-2011

    Hey Andy,

    I would love to see/read what your grandfather developed. A curriculum would be a bonus! Thanks for the offer, and I hope that we can connect.

    As an aside, I just prototyped a soma cube (I am going to call it an Endover cube) that, when fabricated on a 3D printer, will balance on a vertex. This prototype needs some revision because of my inadequate measurements. I am using software that students will use, and I failed to account for the material, spacing, and warping.

    Thanks for the comment, and I look forward to continued conversation.


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