Math + Art + U = Mega Menger

An international celebration of mathematical art

Calvin College has been selected as one of twenty sites worldwide to host a Mega Menger build, with sessions from Oct. 17-28, 2014 (see event details). At each site, a model of a mathematical fractal called a Menger Sponge will be constructed from nearly 70,000 business cards. The resulting sculpture will weigh approximately 170 pounds and stand 4.5 feet tall, 4.5 feet wide and 4.5 feet deep. To find out more about the worldwide Mega Menger event and see updates from sites around the world, visit megamenger.com.  You can also read stories about the Calvin build in a Chimes article and in Calvin's News and Stories.

The Menger Sponge

The Menger sponge is formed by repeatedly removing "middle thirds" from a 3-dimensional cube.

construction of a Menger sponge (source: Wikipedia)

Our model will represent 7 levels of this infinite process.

Among the interesting properties of the Menger Sponge:

  • Its mathematical dimension is actually a little less than 3 -- approximately 2.73.  
    • The exact value of its Hausdorf dimension is log(20) / log(3).
  • Its volume is 0.
  • But its surface area is infinite.

You can find out more about the Menger sponge at

Get involved

The success of this event depends on volunteers to help with the build. We estimate that the entire project will require approximately 1000 people hours to complete.

Public build sessions

The public is invited to join Calvin students and alumni at a number of public build sessions.  Master builders will be on hand to teach you how to construct individual cubes out of six business cards and to assemble them into larger components. Volunteers are welcome to come for all or any part of a build session.

  • Thursday, October 16, 3 pm - 6 pm, in North Hall 259 our Mathematics and Statistics Colloquium will be devoted to a build session.

We have scheduled two kick-off builds during homecoming weekend:

  • Friday, October 17, 4 pm - 9 pm in the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex
  • Saturday, October 18, 1pm - 5 pm in the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex

More sessions are being scheduled for the week of October 20-25, watch here for updates as additional times and locations are determined.

  • Monday, October 20, 6:30-9pm in North Hall 251
  • Tuesday, October 21, 4pm-9pm in the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex
  • Wednesday, October 22, noon-4pm in the Hekman Library
  • Wednesday, October 22, 4pm - 9pm in the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex (come early for the Calvin-Hope Volleyball match and build awhile)
  • Thursday, October 23, 1pm - 10pm (or later?) in the Library Lobby (near the fire place)
  • Friday, October 24, noon - 10pm in the Library Lobby (near the fire place)
  • Saturday, October 25, 10:30am - 4pm in North Hall
  • Monday, October 27, 3pm-7pm (possibly later) in Johnny's
  • Tuesday, October 28, 11am-1am in Johnny's.  

Status Report:  Assembly was completed on Nov 1.

Mega Menger -- final assembly

Live Video Feed (when building is happening and streaming is available)

Photos available in our photo gallery and in the slide shows below.  (Slide shows require flash.)

Adopt-a-block

Does your school or organization want to adopt a portion of the sculpture? If so, contact us at mathstat@calvin.edu to find out how we can make this happen.

Confirmed adopt-a-block partners include

  • Grand Valley State University Math/Stats Club
  • Grand Rapids Christian Middle School

Sponsors

The Calvin build is being co-sponsored by

The worldwide MegaMenger event event is sponsored by

  • Queen Mary, University of London

and supported by

  • Manchester Science Festival, and
  • MoMath (the Museum of Mathematics) in New York

Resources

  • Basic build instructions (through Level 1 cube)
  • Video showing build of basic cubes and Level 1 cube
  • STL file for a folding jig (suitable for printing with a 3d printer.  Note: scale should be 1 inch, but it sometimes needs to rescaled if your software reads it as mm instead.  For US business cards, the equilateral triangle should be about 2.065 inches on a side.  The important thing is that it be scaled so that the folds are a touch wider than the business cards so the cards can slide through after folding.)