Ready for some mindboggling hands on math? Today we are exploring the fascinating math behind Möbius Strips and we will learn how to easily make a Möbius Heart. This is a very simple project with a ton of wow factor as it demonstrates some fascinating mathematical principles.
The Möbius Strip for Kids – An Easy Step by Step Guide
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This is a very simple paper STEM project and all you need is paper, tape and scissors. Oh, plus some curious kids!
What is a Mobius Strip?
Have you ever heard of a Möbius Strip? First, Mobius is spelled Möbius with the two dots over the ‘o’. Sometimes people spell it without the dots, but officially it has the dots! It was created by the German mathematician and astronomer August Ferdinand Möbius in 1858.
In mathematics, a Möbius band, strip, or loop, is a single-sided surface with no boundaries. If you take a pencil and start drawing a line you will end up touching all surfaces of the mobius strip without lifting the pencil and end up right back where you started. So cool!
This is what it looks like:
What are Möbius strips used for?
Möbius strips are not only really fun to explore, and also have some great uses such as continuous-loop recording tapes, typewriter ribbons, conveyor belts, and computer print cartridges.
The infinity symbol is also a Möbius.
You may also see the Möbius loop used to promote recycling programs and by many artists, especially when making sculptures.
Want a fun way to incorporate the Möbius Strip into your holiday lesson plans? Try our Merry Möbius Ornaments and Garland.
Möbius Strip for Kids Tutorial Video
Watch our video to see how we did this activity, including making the Möbius Strip, Möbius Hearts and our extension activity leaving out the twist. If you can’t see our video, please ensure your adblockers are turned off as these also block our video feed. You can also find this, and many other fun activities on the STEAM Powered Family YouTube Channel.
How to make a Möbius Strip?
All you need is a strip of paper and tape. We found it best to use a wider strip for the kids. Around 1 inch/2.5 cm works well.
Take the strip of paper and make a circle. Now flip one end to add a single twist. Tape the ends together.
It’s that simple! Test your Möbius loop by using a pencil or pen or your finger. Start at one point and trace all the way around until you end up back at the beginning without lifting your finger. So cool!
You can challenge your students to add more half-twists to see what it does to the Möbius. What they will discover is that as long as they give it an odd number of half-twists, it will still be a Möbius strip!
How to make a Möbius strip heart
Making a Möbius strip was so much fun, let’s take it up a notch and make a Möbius Heart. This will be two interlocking hearts, and is truly mindboggling.
I recommend doing this with two different coloured pieces of paper so you can really see what is happening.
You will need two strips of paper, tape and scissors.
Take one strip of paper and make a Möbius strip. Take note of which direction you twisted the paper before taping it.
Now take the second piece of paper and make another Möbius, but this time twist the paper in the opposite direction to make an inverted Möbius strip from the first.
You now have two Möbius strips that are opposites of each other.
Tape the two loops together at a right angle.
Now carefully take a pair of scissors and cut each piece of paper up the middle of the strip, dividing it in two. Do this for both pieces.
Once you are finish cutting you will need to untangle the paper strips a bit, then it will reveal two hearts, mirror images of each other, with half of each colour and interlocked.
Questions and an Investigation
Now we made a Möbius heart, it brought up an interesting question from the kids, what happens if we don’t add in the twist?
So we tested it. We made two paper loops, no twists! Then taped them together at right angles.
Next we cut them up the middle, just like we did with the hearts.
When we opened it up, instead of hearts we ended up with…. a rectangle!
The Mathematical Explanation of Möbius Strips
Möbius strips demonstrate a really fascinating and curious mathematical property within the field of topological study. Before we dive in, let’s define Topology. Topology is the mathematical study of the properties of an object that are preserved during deformations, twisting, bending, moving, and stretching. Since it deals with shapes it is part of the general umbrella of geometry.
And what do we call people that study Topology? A Topologist.
So what is this fascinating topological property in Möbius strips? They are not orientable, there is no top, bottom or sides. They are 2D shapes but with only one side. We saw this demonstrated when we took a pen and drew a line and without ever lifting the pen, we ended up right back at the beginning after touching all the sides of the strip.
Working with the Möbius Strip is a fascinating mathematical activity for kids. Try it today!