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Courtesy of Lily Hevesh

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CCSS: 6.NS.A.1, MP2, MP6, MP7

TEKS: 6.13B, 6.3A, 6.3E

Domino Designer

Artist Lily Hevesh uses math to build spectacular domino displays

Lily Hevesh started playing with dominoes when she was about 9 years old. “My grandparents had the classic 28-pack,” she says. Hevesh loved setting up the dominoes in a line, flicking the first one, and watching the whole line fall.

Soon she began searching online for videos of elaborate domino displays. “I found people building incredible structures, spelling out words, and even making portraits,” Hevesh says. By age 10, her domino collection had grown, and she’d started posting videos of her own domino projects online. Now, at 21, she’s a professional domino artist. Her YouTube channel, Hevesh5, has more than 2 million subscribers.

Lily Hevesh started playing with dominoes when she was about 9 years old. “My grandparents had the classic 28-pack,” she says. Hevesh loved setting up the dominoes in a line. She knocked the first one over and then watched the whole line fall.

Soon she began searching online for domino videos. She discovered many elaborate domino displays. “I found people building incredible structures, spelling out words, and even making portraits,” she says.

By age 10, Hevesh’s domino collection had grown. She started posting videos of her own domino projects online. Now Hevesh is 21. She’s a professional domino artist. More than 2 million subscribers watch her YouTube channel, Hevesh5. 

Hevesh creates displays for movies, TV shows, and events. She helped set a Guinness World Record for the most dominoes toppled in a circular arrangement: 76,017. Her largest installations take several nail-biting minutes to fall.

Hevesh starts each project by considering its theme or purpose. She brainstorms images or words she wants to use. Next, Hevesh plans out how to arrange the dominoes. Plans might include grids that form pictures, walls, or 3-D structures like towers or pyramids.

Then, Hevesh determines how many dominoes of each color she’ll need. Rather than counting out thousands of dominoes by hand, she weighs many at once. Then she divides the total weight by that of a single domino. This tells her how many dominoes she has—and if it’s enough.

Hevesh creates domino displays for movies, TV shows, and events. She even helped set a Guinness World Record. Her team toppled 76,017 dominoes in a circular arrangement—the most ever in that shape. Big projects like that take several nail-biting minutes to fall.

Hevesh starts each project by considering its theme or purpose. She brainstorms images or words she wants to use. Next, Hevesh plans out how to arrange the dominoes. Sometimes she makes grids of dominoes that form pictures. Other times she builds structures like walls, towers, or pyramids.

Then Hevesh determines how many dominoes of each color she needs. But counting out thousands of dominoes by hand would take too long. Instead, she weighs many dominoes at a time. Then she divides the total weight by the weight of a single domino. This tells her if she has enough.

As she builds a display, Hevesh works on one section at a time. She then tests each section to make sure it falls properly. She films the tests in slow motion, which allows her to make any corrections.

Finally, she connects each section using lines of dominoes. But she omits a few dominoes here and there, until the last minute. That way, if she or a teammate accidentally knocks something over, it doesn’t bring the whole installation crashing down. “I’m pretty good at preventing big accidental topples, but small ones happen in just about every project,” she says.

When it’s time for the final run, Hevesh is usually a bit nervous: “I worry constantly that something will go wrong. Once the last domino has toppled, that’s when I can finally celebrate and sigh in relief.”

Hevesh builds her display carefully. She works on one section at a time. Then she tests each section to make sure it works. She films the tests in slow motion. That helps her notice and fix any mistakes. 

Finally, she connects each section using lines of dominoes. But she still leaves out a few dominoes here and there. She keeps these gaps until the last minute in case she or a teammate accidentally knocks something over. That way it doesn’t bring the whole project crashing down. “I’m pretty good at preventing big accidental topples,” she says. “But small ones happen in just about every project.”

When it’s time for the final run, Hevesh is usually a bit nervous. “I worry constantly that something will go wrong,” she says. She relaxes only once the last domino has toppled. “That’s when I can finally celebrate and sigh in relief.”

Calculate how many dominoes Hevesh needs—measured from front edge to front edge—for her designs. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

Calculate how many dominoes Hevesh needs—measured from front edge to front edge—for her designs. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

Hevesh wants to create a line of dominoes 18 inches long with each domino spaced 1 1/2 in. apart. How many dominoes will she need?

Hevesh wants to create a line of dominoes 18 inches long with each domino spaced 1 1/2 in. apart. How many dominoes will she need?

Hevesh plans to build a line of dominoes 26 in. long with each block spaced 1 5/8 in. apart. How many will she need?

Hevesh plans to build a line of dominoes 26 in. long with each block spaced 1 5/8 in. apart. How many will she need?

She needs to build a line of dominoes 21 1/4 in. long with each domino spaced 1 1/4 in. apart. How many will she need?

She needs to build a line of dominoes 21 1/4 in. long with each domino spaced 1 1/4 in. apart. How many will she need?

She wants to build a tower 35 in. tall using dominoes that are 1 2/5 in. tall. How many levels will her tower have?

She wants to build a tower 35 in. tall using dominoes that are 1 2/5 in. tall. How many levels will her tower have?

Hevesh needs 75 dominoes for a design. She weighs a bag of dominoes and it’s 14 oz. Each domino weighs 7/25 oz. How many dominoes are in the bag? Will she have enough?

Hevesh needs 75 dominoes for a design. She weighs a bag of dominoes and it’s 14 oz. Each domino weighs 7/25 oz. How many dominoes are in the bag? Will she have enough?

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