Sunday, October 25, 2020
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Geometry builds a new house, even in a tree


Some high school students study math; others build houses, such as those in Evanston, Illinois, and Boyd, Texas. Sure, the math they study comes in handy for building those houses (the one in Texas is a tree house), especially geometry, of course, but once the project is done, years of enjoyment follow. And that’s what math is good for these days.

From Evanston, the Daily Northwestern has the story about how Evanston Township High School teachers, students, and community members gathered two days ago to tour the latest house built by the school’s “Geometry in Construction” class.

ETHS math department chair Dale Leibforth said the class, which brings in a healthy dose of both geometry and construction training, also helps students develop practical abilities, such as working with different people, being persistent, and asking good questions.

The shell for the house started out in the high school’s parking lot, but there’s nothing like actually being there.

“There’s a lot of right triangles in building; there’s measurement,” Mr Leibforth was quoted as saying. “Obviously, you have a scale drawing. To take a scale drawing and to blow it up, you deal with similarity. You have a 2-D mapping of the house turn into a three-dimensional shape. We have a lot of those ideas come together.”

And from Texas, the Wise County Messenger describes Boyd High School students scrawling geometric shapes and angles with the help of fixed rulers and plotting out plans for tree houses.

Some of the tree houses even have multiple floors and sections—or even aerial walkways.

“We had to learn how to draw using perspective so we could learn what shapes and forms look like. Then we started on surface area,” the paper quoted art teacher Robin Nobles as saying.

Her background is in architecture, and for this class, which was brought over from another high school where Boyd’s principal used to work, she partnered with geometry teacher Brandon Moore. In addition to the math credit, all students who successfully complete the course, which meets four times a week (twice in Mr Moore’s classroom and twice in Ms Nobles’s room), receive both a math and a career and technical education credit.

One freshman’s two-story tree house had a rooftop observation deck. What inspired this young math student and budding architect? Modern architecture and stacked shipping containers, he said.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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