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Spiral Architect

5.0 based on 1 ratings

Updated on Mar 18, 2010



Grade Level


Difficulty Level




Safety Issues


Material Availability

All necessary materials are readily available.

Project Time Frame

4-6 weeks.


This project examines the architectural possibilities of a snail shell.

The goals of this project are:

  1. To discover the practical applications for this particular structural design.
  2. To develop new or improved uses for this type of space.

  • Computer with internet access
  • Color printer
  • Digital camera
  • Typical office/craft/hobby supplies (such as paper, pens & poster-board, glue, etc.)
  • Snail shells

All materials can be found in your home, at local stores, or on ebay.


The basic form of a snail shell has many interesting features.The spiraling interior is well insulated, and it seems to contain a lot of volume in a relatively small dimensional space.There are no corners to clean, and the smooth, continuous roundness of the structure is quite pleasing to the eye.It seems there are must be many practical uses for this shape.Here we will discover them.

Research Questions
  1. What can we do with the shape of a snail shell, other than “hear the ocean?”
  2. What is the (average) volume of a snail shell?
  3. What are the benefits of this type of space?
Terms and Concepts to Start Background Research
  • Architecture
  • Gastropod

  1. Research related materials (see bibliography below)
  2. Search and print out images of snail shells that interest you.
  3. Obtain several large snail shells and photograph them from all angles.
  4. If possible, bisect a shell to show its cross-section.
  5. Examine the interior space of each shell.
  6. Determine each shell’s volume by filling it to the brim with water, then pouring the water into a measuring cup.
  7. Sketch a few ideas for ways to use this unusual space.Musical instrument?Hand tool?House?Reservoir?Water slide?Drainage system?Use your imagination.
  8. Build a model of your design.
  9. Clearly describe your methods and materials in a detailed report.
  10. Include sketches, models, and shell samples in your science fair display.
  11. Show interesting photos taken throughout the course of the project.


Wiki topics: “Snail” “Seashell” and “Hermit Crab” (X-rays of seashells) (Seashell architecture) (About seashells) (Shell house 1) (Shell house 2)

Internet searches of your own choosing:Search for any of the terms listed above (or make up your own phrases to search), and click on any results that interest you.Have fun surfing the net!

Judee Shipman is a Bay Area Educational Consultant and professional writer of quality educational materials. Her recent writing credits include (a popular and entertaining website about states), and a book called The Portable Chess Coach (Cardoza, 2006), currently available in stores.