High schoolers building homes for the non-profit organization Habitat For Humanity is another great example of 21st Century math teachers taking math out of the classroom where it has been languishing for centuries and putting it to work in a fashion guaranteed to engage young minds and hands. Forty-nine High School students in Vancouver built homes while participating in a class called Math in Construction.
What did they learn? Well, confidence for one thing. An appreciation for real-world math for another."It was an amazing experience," said One young scholar. "I'm going to use this in real life."
As anyone who has ever built a house knows there is more to its construction than hammering nails and sawing wood:everything you do has to be calculated in advance (remember the old saying “measure twice cut once, measure once cut twice?”). Estimating square footage, estimating cubic yardage, figuring wall angles and door sizes... As Bill Culver, one of the teachers says, "There's a lot of geometry in the curriculum.”
So much math in fact that studies have shown that many young people who want to work in the construction field do not take the licensed contractor test just to avoid the math section. Something kids who attended this class won’t be doing. As one young contractor put it, “Now I’m at the Skills Center in the construction program, and I actually want to pursue a career in construction. It’s all because of this one class.”
All of which goes to show that a committed teacher with a good idea can make math interesting and relevant to students who don’t necessarily want to become engineers or math professors.
Of course not every math teacher has the resources--much less the necessary skill set--to build a house with their math class. Fortunately for the most of us technology provides a number of different means to engage kids in math. Chief among those means are robots!
Robots are fun and what kid doesn’t want to know what makes a robot work? It’s math, of course, and robots are math made real. A look at our RobotsLAB BOX will show you what we mean!