In geometry, students work with a lot of different shapes. One of the most important polygons to become familiar with is the pentagon.
7 Things You Might Not Know About Pentagons
- All pentagons have five straight sides, but the sides do not have to be of equal length.
- A regular pentagon has five equal sides and five equal angles. In basic geometry, most problems will involve regular polygons.
- Each interior angle of a regular pentagon = 108 degrees.
- Each exterior angle of a regular pentagon = 72 degrees.
- The sum of the interior angles of a regular pentagon = 540 degrees.
- Drawing diagonal lines between the points of pentagon will result in a perfect star shape or pentagram.
- If the five sides of a shape are NOT connected or the shape has a curved side(s), it is NOT a pentagon.
Types of Pentagons
- Regular or equilateral pentagon: five equal sides and angles
- Irregular pentagon: five unequal sides and unequal angles
- Convex pentagon: no internal angle can be greater than 180 degrees
- Concave pentagon: has an internal angle greater than 180 degrees causing two sides to “sink in” like a “cave”
Parts of a Pentagon
- Side: one of the five line segments
- Vertex: two sides meet at a point called a vertex
- Diagonal: a line that connects two vertices that isn’t one of the five sides
- Interior angle: an inside angle formed by two sides of the pentagon
- Exterior angle: an angle on the outside of the pentagon formed by two adjacent sides
How to Calculate the Area of a Pentagon
- Start with one side and the apothem*
- Divide the pentagon into 5 triangles by drawing 5 lines from the center of the pentagon
- Calculate the area of a triangle**
- Multiply by 5 to find the total area
*The apothem is the line from the center of the pentagon to a side, intersecting the side at a 90º right angle.
**Remember the formula for calculating the area of a triangle is ½ x base x height
Pentagons – A Few Fun Facts
Why the Pentagon is a pentagon: The headquarters of the U.S. Dept. of Defense in Washington, DC is named the Pentagon. This massive concrete and steel building has a total floor area of almost 7 million square feet and 17.5 miles of corridors. At the beginning of WWII in 1941, President Roosevelt decided a new building was needed for the War Dept.
The architect chose to take advantage of the properties of a symmetrical pentagon. Doing so shortened the distance people would have to walk from one office to another within this huge building when compared to a traditional rectangular building. A circular building would have also incorporated shorter walking distances, but constructing a building with straight sides such as a pentagon was much easier and faster.
Okra: Next time you’re eating fried okra or gumbo, take a look at a slice of okra. It’s shaped like a pentagon.
Starfish: Almost all starfish have a fivefold radial symmetry or are shaped like pentagons.
Poetry: There is actually something known as pentagon poetry.
Musical Pentagons: If you like music from the 1980s, check out Rich Clare’s Pentagon Band. For something different, South Korea has a boy band named Pentagon.
As you can see, a pentagon is a very useful shape. Not only is a pentagon frequently used in basic geometry, it is a shape useful in architecture and found throughout the natural world.