Thursday, June 2, 2016

Learning Geometry Concepts Through A Real Life Experience

The 6th grade advanced math students recently completed their unit on geometry. This unit I decided to approach a little differently than the units I taught earlier in the school year. I wanted the students to learn the geometry concepts through a hands on experience.

I began class by teaching a 5-10 minute mini lesson on the geometry concept of the day. Some concepts we covered were the following: attributes of 2D and 3D shapes, area, surface area, volume, and geometric nets. After the mini lesson was completed, students practiced applying what they learned through working on the district's Real World Experience project. For this project they were to create a foldable birdhouse out of poster board. I found this approach of incorporating the Real World Experience project in the classroom more appropriate for the students' learning. They had more of an opportunity to immediately relate what they were learning to a real life experience. This is different from the past units I instructed, because originally, I would have one of the last weeks of the units designated for the students to work on their Real World Experience project.

First, the problem for the project was introduced to the students: Urban development has made it more difficult for birds to find homes in tree cavities or snags. One way to combat this loss of habitat is to build bird nesting boxes. You work for an environmental company that wants to develop a prototype for a nesting box that is foldable and made of paper. This way, people can have a quick and inexpensive way to help birds thrive in urban areas. Your company has a contest to see who can design the best foldable nesting box. The winner gets a promotion and a raise!

We read several articles about birdhouses and birds in general. The students were given the backgrounds on the different birds that they could choose to create a birdhouse for. Then I supplied the students with graph paper to draw a diagram (to scale) of a birdhouse for their chosen bird.

After learning about area and surface area, the students decomposed their original 3D diagram. They calculated the area of all the sides (to scale and original birdhouse size) in order to find the surface area of the entire 3D shape. Next, I presented the question, "How do you know you have enough space for the bird?" After a short lesson on volume, the students calculated the volume of their birdhouses. Lastly, the concept of a net was introduced to the students. During the mini lesson the students experimented with different shape nets. When ready, they drew a net for their birdhouse to scale. Finally, they created life sized nets for their birdhouse on poster board.

And voila...a foldable, paper birdhouse!