Hexagons are interesting geometric shapes and appear in many areas of nature and life. In this lesson, learn all about the hexagon, its angles, and how to find its area. When you have finished, review what you’ve learned with our short self-assessment quiz!
What Is a Hexagon?
Some shapes are found all across nature, and the hexagon is one of these. A hexagon is a 6-sided, 2-dimensional geometric figure. All of the sides of a hexagon are straight, not curved. Hexagons are found in honeycombs created by bees to store honey, pollen, and larvae. They’re even famously found in the interlocking columns of volcanic rock that form the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. While these examples might be the most well-known, hexagons are found in many other parts of nature: the bond-shapes of certain molecules, in crystal structures, in the patterns of turtle shells, and more.
But why hexagons? What’s so special about them? Well, it’s all a matter of efficiency. If you create a grid of hexagons then the shapes perfectly interlock, with absolutely no gaps. But compared to other shapes that interlock like this, the lines of each hexagon are as short as they can be. Any other interlocking shape will have longer lines. The result of this is that they require less materials to construct and have a lot of compressive strength.
A hexagon is an example of a polygon, or a shape with many sides. Hex is a Greek prefix which means ‘six.’ A regular hexagon has six sides that are all congruent, or equal in measurement. A regular hexagon is convex, meaning that the points of the hexagon all point outward. All of the angles of a regular hexagon are congruent and measure 120 degrees. This means the angles of a regular hexagon add up to 720 degrees, or 6 times 120.
Irregular hexagons can look quite different. An irregular hexagon also has six sides, but they’re not of equal length. The points of irregular hexagons can point inward or outward. When the points of a hexagon point inward, even if only one point is inward, then the hexagon is considered a concave hexagon.
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