September 26, 2019

Explore the Fuller Saluki initiative at SIU with Kurt Przybilla presentation and workshops

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Kurt Przybilla – inventor, writer, producer, educator and admirer of the late Buckminster Fuller – will be speaking and leading hands-on workshops at Southern Illinois in October.

Przybilla will be featured in the 2019 Michael and Nancy Glassman Distinguished Lecture Series discussion and presentation Oct. 9 and will conduct workshops the preceding two days.

Teens’ workshop Oct. 7

A “Meet the Inventor” workshop and activity are set for 4 p.m. on Oct. 7 at the SIU Student Center and any youth who is in seventh grade or older is invited to participate. They will get to meet Przybilla and learn about the geometry associated with Fuller’s work. Przybilla will demonstrate how the simple triangle became the building block for the geodesic dome design named and popularized by Fuller. Then, teens will get to try their hand at geometric construction and dome building.

Dome building for adults

Przybilla will also lead a Geodesic Dome Building Workshop from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 8 on the front lawn of Morris Library. Adult participants will discover the principles of synergy, structure and design Fuller championed as they create several handmade bamboo geodesic domes. They’ll lash together the locally grown bamboo pieces, harvested largely at Touch of Nature Environmental Center and cut at the SIU Craft Shop. Jon Davey, architecture professor, and some of his students are assisting with the workshop as well.

The finished domes will be displayed at various locations around campus afterward.

Sign up in advance or just come by

You can register in advance for either workshop by contacting the University Honors Program at 618/453-2824. Or, simply show up and get in on the fun.

People are welcome to come for all or part of the Oct. 8 dome building workshop.

All welcome at Glassman presentation

Przybilla will discuss the legacy and contemporary relevance of Fuller’s “World Game” concept during the 2019 Glassman Distinguished Lecture. His presentation in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 is free and open to the public. Afterward there will be Q&A time and discussion followed by a reception in the library rotunda.

Fuller conceived the “World Game” while teaching at SIU in the 1960s. It was intended to be “a tool that would facilitate a comprehensive, anticipatory design science approach to the problems of the world,” according to the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

Fuller held a World Game workshop when he was at SIU and also led a dome-building workshop on the library lawn.

The Bucky Tradition lives on

Przybilla is the inventor of Tetra Tops, the world’s first spinning top with more than one axis of spin. Przybilla’s award-winning toy has been featured in the New York Times, Popular Science, Baby Einstein, Child and Discover Magazine and at the Smithsonian Institute.

He said the work of the late Buckminster Fuller, who was an SIU faculty member, was the inspiration for his invention, and he serves as a senior adviser for the Buckminster Fuller Institute in San Francisco. Przybilla has gained considerable attention for his media-based interactive projects that teach children complex math principles in fun and interesting ways.

He’s also co-creator, writer and producer for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Molecularium Project. In addition, he co-wrote and/or produced:

  • “Molecules to the Max!” – a 3D animated film for giant screen IMAX theaters.
  • “Molecularium” – an award-winning digital dome feature.
  • “NanoSpace” – a game-based online theme park that teaches children about atoms and molecules.

Fuller Saluki initiative project

Przybilla’s lecture and workshops are part of SIU University Honor Program’s “Fuller Saluki” initiative, which embraces Fuller’s legacy of imagining and creating a sustainable future that works, in Fuller’s words, for “100 percent of humanity,” said Elizabeth Donoghue, assistant director of University Honors.

The honors undergraduate program works collaboratively with other campus units to help high-achieving students grow and develop. The motto is “Learn. Lead. Serve.”

Additional information

Morris Library is collaborating with University Honors to sponsor Przybilla’s lecture and discussion. The Student Center Craft Shop, Touch of Nature Environmental Center and School of Architecture are co-sponsoring the dome workshop.

For more information about any of Przybilla’s programming at SIU, contact University Honors Program at 618/453-2824 or