Nobbly Wobbly Workshop

Host your own Nobbly Wobbly Workshop! Materials and resources will leave your group considering the aesthetics, psychology, and mathematics involved in quality puzzle making and solving.
  • Submitted by: Dick Esterle
  • Time Required: 20 minutes +
  • You’ll Need: scissors and tape

Download the Cube         Download Variants

Additional resources:
Book Cover Geometric Puzzle Design by Steward CoffinThis book discusses how to design good geometric puzzles: two-dimensional dissection puzzles, polyhedral dissections, and burrs. It outlines major categories of geometric puzzles and provides examples, sometimes going into the history and philosophy of those examples. The author presents challenges and thoughtful questions, as well as practical design and woodworking tips to encourage the reader to build his own puzzles and experiment with his own designs. Aesthetics, phychology, and mathematical considerations all factor into the definition of the quality of a puzzle.
Book Cover Polyhedra by Peter CromwellPolyhedra have cropped up in many different guises throughout recorded history. Recently, polyhedra and their symmetries have been cast in a new light by combinatorics and group theory. This unique text comprehensively documents the many and varied ways that polyhedra have come to the fore throughout the development of mathematics. The author strikes a balance between covering the historical development of the theory surrounding polyhedra and rigorous treatment of the mathematics involved. Attractively illustrated — including 16 color plates — Polyhedra elucidates ideas that have proven difficult to grasp. Mathematicians, as well as historians of mathematics, will find this book fascinating.
Book Cover The Symmetries of Things by John H. Conway, Heidi Burgiel, Chaim Goodman-StraussStart with a single shape. Repeat it in some way — translation, reflection over a line, rotation around a point — and you have created symmetry. Symmetry is a fundamental phenomenon in art, science, and nature that has been captured, described, and analyzed using mathematical concepts for a long time. Inspired by the geometric intuition of Bill Thurston and empowered by his own analytical skills, John Conway, with his coauthors, has developed a comprehensive mathematical theory of symmetry that allows the description and classification of symmetries in numerous geometric environments. This richly and compellingly illustrated book addresses the phenomenological, analytical, and mathematical aspects of symmetry on three levels that build on one another and will speak to interested lay people, artists, working mathematicians, and researchers.
Book Cover Divided Spheres: Geodesics and the Orderly Subdivision of the Sphere by Edward S. PopkoThis well-illustrated book — in color throughout — presents a thorough introduction to the mathematics of Buckminster Fuller’s invention of the geodesic dome, which paved the way for a flood of practical applications as diverse as weather forecasting and fish farms. The author explains the principles of spherical design and the three main categories of subdivision based on geometric solids (polyhedra). He illustrates how basic and advanced CAD techniques apply to spherical subdivision and covers modern applications in product design, engineering, science, games, and sports balls.
Book Cover The Big Book of Brain Games by Ivan MoscovichAbout the original 1000 PlayThinks, Will Shortz of The New York Times said it best: The most wide-ranging, visually appealing, entertaining, gigantic collection of brainteasers since Sam Loyd’s Cyclopedia of Puzzles almost a century ago. Inside The Big Book of Brain Games, you will find an obsessive collection of 1,000 challenges, puzzles, riddles, illusions — originals as well as must-do classics — it’s like salted peanuts for the brain. With jampacked pages and a full-color illustration for each entry, the book, opened anywhere, is a call to action. (And it’s guaranteed to make you smarter.) Twelve basic categories include Geometry, Patterns, Numbers, Logic and Probability, and Perception. An easy-to-read key at the top of each game ranks its difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10, while indices in the back cross-reference the puzzles. (You’ll find the answers back there, too.)
Book Cover Woodcarving Magic: How to Transform a Single Block of Wood into Impossible Shapes by Bjarne JespersonIf you thought carving the linked chain or the ball-in-cage was a challenge, get ready for Bjarne Jespersen and his mind-altering woodcarving projects! Bjarne is a master woodcarver from Denmark and has spent his life studying geometric form. In this book, he shares over 25 amazing designs and projects for woodcarving. From flat rings, to linked cages, to magic spheres and beyond — this is a book that will keep woodcarvers challenged for a long time! Each project includes detailed diagrams illustrating the carving process along with notes from the author about the composition and design. The book includes information about this tradition of woodcarving and a detailed appendix.
Book Cover Cut & Assemble Icosahedra: Twelve Models in White and Color by Eve TorrenceFun, yet challenging shapes for hobbyists and useful tools for teachers of high school and college geometry, 12 geometric icosahedron cut-and-assemble models include complete step-by-step instructions and diagrams for assembly. In addition to pre-colored pieces, the 32 plates offer blank color-your-own options. This hands-on educational activity book also features mathematical explanations of the geometric shapes.
Book Cover The Orderly Tangles: Coverleafs, Gordian Knots and Regular Polylinks by Alan HoldenSee George Hart’s excellent 2006 web page Orderly Tangles Revisited. Next best thing to the book!

2 thoughts on “Nobbly Wobbly Workshop

  1. R Bruff Reply

    The Knobly/Wobbly PDFs dont seem to be available to download properly. They just goto the Celebration of Mind web page?

    • Katie LaSeur Reply

      Thanks for pointing out the broken link! It’s been fixed. Please try downloading the files again.

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