Connecting geometry class to real world use

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A new course at Evanston Township High School teaches students how their studies can be connected to the real world. (WLS)

If you think back to your high school geometry class, more than likely you sat at your desk, memorizing theories you weren't sure you'd use again.

But a new course at Evanston Township High School teaches students how their studies can be connected to the real world.

These geometry students have put down the protractors and picked up the power tools.

They are learning how age-old mathematic concepts can be applied to real life.

It's a class new to Evanston Township High School this year called "Geometry in Construction."

The staff consulted teachers in a Colorado school who designed the course several years ago.

"They were so inspiring in telling the story of the impact that this course can have on students in terms of their interest and skill building in math," said Shelley Gates, Evanston Township High School.

Fifty-six ninth- and tenth-graders are enrolled in the class where they learn geometry through the construction of a single-family home being built in the school's parking lot.

They also pick up construction skills ranging from carpentry to plumbing.

The students seem to like the hands-on approach.

"Traditionally I've been in a normal math class where you sit in a classroom all day long and that's not what I like," said student Honore Walsh.

"Before taking this class I didn't think that math had much to do with everything outside," student Nolan Robinson said. "I know a lot of teachers say it does but I didn't really see it myself. But since building this house I can see that everything we do has everything to do with math."

Students take what they learn in the classroom to the construction site where they are on track to finish building the 3-bedroom 2-bath house by mid-June.

Both their math teacher and professional contractors are helping to guide them through the process.

But the project hasn't been without a few hiccups.

"The kids are outside all year long and having the record cold and snow put us behind but we used that as an opportunity to teach the kids about patience," Gates said.

Once the house is completed, it will be transported to this vacant lot a few blocks away from the high school and sold as affordable housing.

Money from the sale will help fund the class project next year.

A few Saturdays throughout the school year, the class hosted Community Build days, where the construction on the house was open to anyone interested in helping out with the project.

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