n Learning and Teaching Mathematics - Packing four spheres into a tetrahedron

Volume 2016, Issue 20
  • ISSN : 1990-6811


A few years ago, when learning about 3-dimensional shapes, my Grade 9 Maths class was tasked with building containers to hold four ping pong balls of radius 2 cm so that the four balls fitted snugly inside the container. The simplest and most popular ways of doing this were to construct cuboids or cylinders with the correct dimensions. If you were ambitious you could try other shapes, such as a triangular prism, but whatever shape you chose it was important for the dimensions to be mathematically accurate. Calculating the dimensions of these shapes is well within the means of a competent Grade 9 learner.

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