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April 14, 2010

Using Construction to Reinforce Math

By Stacey Burt


    There is nothing more rewarding than to step back and admire a job well done. Students appreciate the opportunity to apply their knowledge in unique ways. As often as possible, I try to incorporate “construction” activities of some sort into my math curriculum.

    From egg drop containers to catapults and trebuchets to bridges and toy cars and my latest building idea, yurts, I try to find construction projects that my students can design and complete that reinforces measurement and geometry skills taught in math class. These projects often meld math with science concepts and do double duty as far as assisting the students in synthesizing academic ideas and concepts.

    Engineering in the classroom is not a new idea, just one that most students are drawn to naturally which provides them the opportunity to demonstrate mathematical concepts in a creative and hands-on manner. I feel that by permitting the time for these projects, I am able to assess my students’ knowledge in a more authentic way that makes sense to students.

    I will admit the planning takes extra time and gathering materials can be costly (again, think grants and simply “asking” local hardware stores for donations), but the results can be astounding. Additionally, there are some great sites dedicated to engineering (one in particular for girls). I have created a list of some of my favorite sites that are awesome resources for you and your students. I also like the idea of introducing the students to engineering contests that they can pursue on their own or with your assistance.

    Engineer Girl

    http://www.engineergirl.org/CMS/CoolLinks.aspx

    Engineer Your Life (for high school girls)

    http://engineeryourlife.org/

    Engineering Interact

    http://www.engineeringinteract.org/interact.htm

    Anatomy of a Refrigerator

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/zero/refrigerator.html

    Egg Drop Contest

    http://www.centenary.edu/physics/egg

    Bridge Design

    http://claymore.engineer.gvsu.edu/~oostdykj/techniques.html

    Inventors and Inventions

    http://www.enchantedlearning.com/inventors/

    Scholastic also has several great books on engineering. Check out a couple of these titles available at their online store: 

    0439575680_sm                  0439517370_sm


    Best, Stacey


    There is nothing more rewarding than to step back and admire a job well done. Students appreciate the opportunity to apply their knowledge in unique ways. As often as possible, I try to incorporate “construction” activities of some sort into my math curriculum.

    From egg drop containers to catapults and trebuchets to bridges and toy cars and my latest building idea, yurts, I try to find construction projects that my students can design and complete that reinforces measurement and geometry skills taught in math class. These projects often meld math with science concepts and do double duty as far as assisting the students in synthesizing academic ideas and concepts.

    Engineering in the classroom is not a new idea, just one that most students are drawn to naturally which provides them the opportunity to demonstrate mathematical concepts in a creative and hands-on manner. I feel that by permitting the time for these projects, I am able to assess my students’ knowledge in a more authentic way that makes sense to students.

    I will admit the planning takes extra time and gathering materials can be costly (again, think grants and simply “asking” local hardware stores for donations), but the results can be astounding. Additionally, there are some great sites dedicated to engineering (one in particular for girls). I have created a list of some of my favorite sites that are awesome resources for you and your students. I also like the idea of introducing the students to engineering contests that they can pursue on their own or with your assistance.

    Engineer Girl

    http://www.engineergirl.org/CMS/CoolLinks.aspx

    Engineer Your Life (for high school girls)

    http://engineeryourlife.org/

    Engineering Interact

    http://www.engineeringinteract.org/interact.htm

    Anatomy of a Refrigerator

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/zero/refrigerator.html

    Egg Drop Contest

    http://www.centenary.edu/physics/egg

    Bridge Design

    http://claymore.engineer.gvsu.edu/~oostdykj/techniques.html

    Inventors and Inventions

    http://www.enchantedlearning.com/inventors/

    Scholastic also has several great books on engineering. Check out a couple of these titles available at their online store: 

    0439575680_sm                  0439517370_sm


    Best, Stacey

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