Tiny Houses Problem Based Learning

Ellen Hoppe and Carolyn Borman
The Stage IV teachers, Ellen Hoppe, Scott Vartanian and Paula Romano sought a math opportunity that would allow students to design and collaborate, while learning important math skills, from blueprint to model.  They had six diverse client profiles from which students selected their preferred choices. Examples were a retired couple who own a dog and have a fixed income, a single parent with two kids on a budget, and a differently abled person.

This is an example of project based learning in which they looked at questions: "What really is space/spatial awareness?" and "How do space and measurement affect design?". The children needed to learn about area and perimeter and their relationship, build skills in transferring 2-D to a 3-D model applying measurement skills and consider other design influences such as client needs.

The project also involved other skills - creativity, teamwork, problem-solving, decision making and managing a long term project.

A highlight of the experience was when retired architect, Michael Prentis (Mara Prentis’ dad), came in and talked with our students about the process. He brought resources, demonstrated important aspects, and asked good questions, which allowed students to revise plans.
Educating and inspiring gifted students to think as individuals and to engage as a community with compassion for each other and this world.

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