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## 'Tet-trouble' printed from http://nrich.maths.org/

### Why do this problem?

This
problem offers an excellent opportunity for students to
practise visualisation and apply an idea normally only used in 2D
geometry to a 3D case. Learners will have to consider carefully how
to communicate their methods for testing combinations and that they
have considered all possibilities.

### Possible approach

In silence, write three lengths on the board (for example 3
units, 6 units, 7units) and accurately draw a triangle with sides
of corresponding lengths. You could use a dynamic geometry package
to do this.

Do it again with three more lengths.

And again but instead of drawing the triangle put a question
mark. After some thinking time, encourage a member of the group to
come up and draw the triangle.

Finally, list three lengths that will not work followed by a
question mark and after time has been taken to realise the
impossibility, discuss why this is the case as a group.

Now pose the problem.

Working in small groups the challenge will be to employ
systematic approaches as well as applying the triangle
inequality.

Take opportunities to pull together different ideas for
recording, including the use of nets and working
systematically.

### Key questions

- How do you know you have tried all possibilities?
- Is it possible to construct more than one tetrahedron?
- Can you find six lengths which will give more than one
tetrahedron?

### Possible extension

The problem

Triangles
to Tetrahedra requires students to work systematically to
generate all possible tetrahedra from four particular
triangles.

Or there is the problem :

Sliced .
This is a challenging next step in this kind of
visualisation.

### Possible support

Use construction straws of equivalent lengths to make (or fail
to make) triangles and tetrahedra.

Alternatively, draw nets and cut them out to see if they
'work'.