John Pittard Elementary students design their dream home


Students at John Pittard Elementary were outside mapping house plans after spending weeks in the classroom learning ratio and proportional relationships in real-life form.

Students brought their dream house designs to life from original sketches drawn on graph paper. This four-step project starts with the basic sketch, which goes to a blue print where they chose their scale and proportion, then students staked out their house plans on the lawn outside the school. In the final phase of the project, students worked on spatial reasoning. They went back to the classrooms to take their 2D drawings to 3D design using a digital house planning website. This hands-on project is a culminating learning experience in which multiple 6th grade curriculum standards and mathematical practices are applied.

“This project teaches real-life skills like using a tape measure and hammer and gives valuable insight into working on a team. Additionally, this is an approachable opportunity for all students because it takes the entire team to accomplish the task and all members have something they can contribute. It’s a true confidence builder,” says sixth grade math teacher Molly Oliver.

While the students are staking their house plans, they grasp the concept of engineering and architecture and how math is used every day in these professions. Oliver teaches the students the “3-4-5 method” to show the importance of a perfect right-angle, otherwise known as the Pythagorean Theorem.

Students learn that right angles are much easier to draw on graph paper than to create with stakes and caution tape. “If your angles are off, your walls won’t be straight which will cause all of your measurements to be off. The right angle is critical to the success of their plan,” says Oliver.

Drone pictures provided students a bird’s eye view of their design which allowed them to critique their own work and the work of their peers. “There is a lot of value in reflecting on one’s success or failure when attempting a big project like this. It enables them to move forward with new knowledge and the capacity to improve on their next attempt,” says Oliver.

“This project gives students the freedom to dream and think about what they would really love to have in a house, and then see it come to life,” says Oliver. “Students gain real perspective about proportionality and reality. One group’s shoe room was larger than their bedroom and another group had a paint ball room inside which was smaller than they expected. I guess that’s why we can call them dream houses!”

John Pittard students created a total of 12 houses, utilizing over 450 stakes and 11,000 feet of caution tape. Bell & Associates Construction donated stakes and caution tape for this project.

Murfreesboro City Schools is a district of twelve schools committed to the academic and personal success of each child. For more information contact Tori Carr at 615-893-2313.

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