So say you just moved from England to the US and you've got your old school supplies from England and your new school supplies from the US and it's your first day of school and you get to class and find that your new American paper doesn't fit in your old English binder. The paper is too wide, and hangs out. So you cut off the extra and end up with all these strips of paper. And to keep yourself amused during your math class you start playing with them. And by you, I mean Arthur H. Stone in 1939. Anyway, there's lots of cool things you can do with a strip of paper. You can fold it into shapes. And more shapes. Maybe spiral it around snugly like this. Maybe make it into a square. Maybe wrap it into a hexagon with a nice symmetric sort of cycle to the flappy parts. In fact, there's enough space here to keep wrapping the strip, and then your hexagon is pretty stable. And you're like, "I don't know, hexagons aren't too exciting, but I guess it has symmetry or something." Maybe you could kinda fold it so the flappy parts are down and the unflappy parts are up. That's symmetric, and it collapses down into these three triangles, which collapse down into one triangle, and collapsible hexagons are, you suppose, cool enough to at least amuse you a little bit during your class. And then, since hexagons have six-way symmetry, you decide to try this three-way fold the other way, with flappy parts up, and are collapsing it down when suddenly the inside of your hexagon decides to open right up. What? You close it back up and undo it. Everything seems the same as before, the center is not open-uppable. But when you fold it that way again, it, like, flips inside-out. Weird. This time, instead of going backwards, you try doing it again. And again. And again. And again. And you want to make one that's a little less messy, so you try again with another strip and tape it nicely into a twisty-foldy loop. You decide that it would be cool to color the sides, so you get out a highlighter and make one yellow. Now you can flip from yellow side to white side. Yellow side, white side, yellow side, white side Hmm. White side? What? Where did the yellow side go? So you go back, and this time you color the white side green, and find that your paper has three sides. Yellow, white, and green. Now this thing is definitely cool. Therefore, you need to name it. And since it's shaped like a hexagon and you flex it and flex rhymes with hex, hexaflexagon it is. That night, you can't sleep because you keep thinking about hexaflexagons. And the next day, as soon as you get to your math class you pull out your paper strips. You had made this sort of spirally folded paper that folds into again, the shape of a piece of paper, and you decide to take that And use it like a strip of paper to make a hexaflexagon. Which would totally work, but it feels sturdier with the extra paper. And you color the three sides and are like, Orange, yellow, pink. And you're sort of trying to pay attention to class. Math, yeah. Orange, yellow, pink. Orange, yellow, white? Wait a second. Okay, so you color that one green. And now it's orange, yellow, green. Orange, yellow, green. Who knows where the pink side went? Oh, there it is. Now it's back to orange, yellow, pink. Orange, yellow, pink. Hmm. Blue. Yellow, pink, blue. Yellow, pink, blue. Yellow, pink, huh. With the old flexagon, you could only flex it one way, flappy way up. But now there's more flaps. So maybe you can fold it both ways. Yes, one goes from pink to blue, but the other, from pink to orange. And now, one way goes from orange to yellow, but the other way goes from orange to...neon yellow. During lunch you want to show this off to one of your new friends, Bryant Tuckerman. You start with the original, simple, three-faced hexaflexagon, which you call the trihexaflexagon. And he's like, whoa! and wants to learn how to make one. And you're like, it's easy! Just start with a paper strip, fold it into equilateral triangles, and you'll need nine of them, and you fold them around into this cycle and make sure it's all symmetric. The flat parts are diamonds, and if they're not, then you're doing it wrong. And then you just tape the first triangle to the last along the edge, and you're good. But Tuckerman doesn't have tape. After all, it was invented only 10 years ago. So he cuts out ten triangles instead of nine, and then glues the first to the last. Then you show him how to flex it by pinching around a flappy part and pushing in on the opposite side to make it flat and trianglly, and then opening from the center. You decide to start a flexagon commitee together to explore the mysteries of flexagation. But that will have to wait until next time.