Designing and building a model teaches important math concepts and sharpens practical skills from arithmetic, measurement and scale to geometry, trigonometry and spatial relations
For a few weeks before their school sent them happily out on summer vacation, a group of seven-grade students enjoyed a hands-on approach to building their dream homes.
Sure, the homes were scale models, but the knowledge imparted was as crucial as if it had been the real thing.
You could say STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) came to MICMs (the Marco Island Charter Middle School).
The questions posed to students in Lauri Barber's class was: What sort of math skills, particularly, would you need to design a home?
They came away positive after discovering how useful — and how much fun — math is, as they designed and built scale models of their dream homes.
Designing and building a model teaches important math concepts and sharpens practical skills from arithmetic, measurement and scale to geometry, trigonometry and spatial relations, was the message from Barber.
The predominant skills developed and nurtured while working with the project — complex problem solving and precision — are the same skills which are crucial to success at all levels of mathematics and on the job, she told them. To help with the design and model building process, she outlined a step by-step approach.
To design a house, she explained before sending them literally to the drawing board, you have to constantly analyze many things at the same time, establish priorities, and try various approaches to solve each problem. For example, if one wall is moved, it generally has multiple consequences.
Moving a wall, for example, not only changes the area and proportion of the room you are working on, but it also changes the space on the other side of the wall. In a chain of events, you start by moving one wall, then have to move other walls in other rooms to keep their proper size and shape.
Next, the windows and doors have to be moved to compensate for the wall changes — which affects the elevations and possibly the layout of the other floors and roof. These complex, interdependent relationships are what make house design so challenging and interesting.
With these directives in mind, the students set about their task. Some of the results are pictured here.