Thursday, 30 April 2015

Designing the New Gym: A Grade 8 Math Challenge

Grade 8 Mathematics students have been experiencing real-world thinking through an inquiry project focused on the construction of a new gym for the school expansion.

The focus of the project is design and planning, both spatially and financially. Before the students were introduced to the goals of the project, they spent a lesson brainstorming various considerations needed when designing a new gymnasium for the school. Their only resource was the blueprint for the third floor addition.

Students then interviewed the school's Athletic Director and Subject Team Leader of Health and Physical Education to get more detailed information about specific features needed in a gymnasium and a sense of the major factors to consider when designing and planning a new gymnasium.

Once the students had completed the brainstorming and interview tasks, they were given a package that included all the information needed to design and determine the cost of the new gym. The package included blueprints, photos, building code requirements (such as the fire code), sporting requirements and budget information.
Students critically examined the resources provided and determined which information would be relevant to their design. The last component of the project was for students to design the floor plan for the new gym. Final designs included dimensions, the layout for the gym and an estimated cost.

Students are presenting their design process and sharing some of the challenges they experienced with a local architect, who will then offer some additional points to consider when designing a physical education space.

The Grade 8 Math class has been engaged and excited by this project, as it has an authentic real-world connection, with a focus on creativity. The students were encouraged to explore their ideas and to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

One student stated that their favourite part of the project has been "finding information in a different way. We are doing the work, and we are almost doing what you would do as a real architect." Another student recognized the importance of the process, or "how hard it is to actually create a gym, and all the thought you have to put into the different aspects of it." Students realized that "you need to do a lot of things [and] you need to choose," while using mathematics to design, plan and financially justify your design.

Grade 8 students have thoroughly enjoyed completing an open-ended and realistic task that promotes creativity and supports the development of real-life skills through a mathematical lens.

Elysia Jellema, Math and Science Teacher
Erin Klassen, Math Teacher
Amanda Lester, Math Subject Team Leader

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