There is a Stage 5 Sierpinski Tetrahedron on display in the Main Library! We hope you enjoy its beauty. We hope you notice the symmetry, and the immense empty space. We hope you notice that it is a wonderful fractal.
Then we want you to look deeper and get a greater appreciation of exponents. This structure is called a Stage 5 Sierpinski Tetrahedron, because it graphically represents 4 to the 5th power.
We have one tetrahedron on display. Next to it is a group of 4. Notice that this basic building block has 3 on the base and 1 that sits on top. Those 4 create a Stage 1 structure, because 4 times 1 is 4. (4 to the 1st power) Build 4 such structures, put 3 on the base and 1 on top and you get a Stage 2 structure. That is 4 to the 2nd power, or 16. There will be 16 tetrahedra in that unit. (We made a one that is color coded to help you see the parts of a Stage 3 Sierpinski Tetrahedron.) We kept building until we reached 4 to the 5th power. How many tetrahedra did we use? (Or you can call them tetrahedrons if that’s easier for you.)
The children entering grades 4-7 who gathered for book discussions this summer were inspired to make all these tetrahedrons after reading the book All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall. Based on a true story, the book tells the story of a group of students who create a Sierpinski Tetrahedron.
We built a very similar structure 8 years ago. Enjoy this video explanation by Jenn Mann, who was a junior at CHS at the time, and then come see the real thing.