Geometric Models - Dissected Polyhedra

From ancient times, mathematicians have been intrigued by polyhedra, closed surfaces with polygons as sides. The polyhedra shown here can be subdivided (dissected) into smaller polyhedra. Sometimes the smaller polyhedra can be rearranged to form other polyhedra. A. Harry Wheeler, a high school mathematics teacher in Worcester, Massachusetts, made several dozen models of dissected polyhedra that survive in the Smithsonian collections. Most date from the 1930s.The models are shown here in the order Wheeler gave them in an unpublished listing of this models. The first section shows regular polyhedra divided into smaller equal polyhedra. The second includes dissected polyhedra whose parts can be rearranged to form other polyhedra. Sometimes pieces became separated over the years, so that one record represents only a portion of a model. Portions that appear to have become separated are grouped together.

Some drawings Wheeler made when planning these models survive and are listed at the end.

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