Math Project 1: Create an Abacus
We have studied the abacus in math class. Your first project is to create your own abacus
at home. You may choose any type of abacus (early Chinese, modern Chinese, Japanese,
Russian). I encourage you to be creative in selecting materials to make your abacus. Bring
your abacus to math class on the above due date and you will receive a project grade. If
you have any difficulty getting materials, please let me know and I will gladly supply you with
anything I have. The following is an example of a fairly inexpensive abacus. Feel free to use
this example, utilize the amazing internet, or let your imagination run wild… Some ideas for
materials: popsicle sticks, drinking straws, pipe cleaners, string, cheerios, macaroni, plastic
beads, shoe box. HAVE FUN!
The Popsicle Stick Abacus
- 9 popsicle (craft) sticks
- 12" wooden dowels, 1/8" diameter
- Plastic pony craft beads
Estimated time to make is approximately 1 hour.
1. Cut a single dowel into thirds, each piece measuring approximately 4 inches. The number of wooden dowels you use depends
on how many place values you want on your abacus to be. (The abacus in the picture has eight place values.)
2. Place the tips of the cut dowels on one popsicle stick, centered and equidistant from each other. Mark their places with a pencil
3. Squeeze lines of glue over the pencil marks. Carefully place the dowel tips onto the glue.
4. After the dowel tips dry, thread two pony beads on each dowel. These will be your "Heaven beads".
5. Place a second popsicle stick underneath the dowels about 3/4" down from the first popsicle stick. This will serve as the center
bar which separates the "Heaven" beads from the "Earth" beads. Mark the dowel positions with pencil marks and squeeze glue
lines over these. Glue the dowels onto this stick. Be careful to not let any beads slide toward this stick and accidentally get glued
6. After the glue on the second popsicle stick has dried, thread five beads on each dowel. These will be your "Earth" beads.
7. Place a third popsicle stick underneath and at the tips of the dowels. Repeat the gluing procedures as stated above.
8. After the glue has dried, get three more popsicle sticks. Line up a popsicle stick over each of the three you glued the wooden
dowels to. Eye it to make sure they're positioned properly. Next, glue these sticks down where you placed them earlier.
9. Take three more popsicle sticks. Glue these directly onto the three you glued in step 8. You're now looking at the back of your
abacus. You'll see that these extra sticks lift the abacus off the table so the beads don't rub against it during use.
10. Flip the abacus over. Congratulations! Enjoy your abacus!