At Green Mountain High School, ninth and 10th grade students enrolled in the Geometry in Construction program don’t question when they’ll have to use geometry in real life scenarios. Instead, …
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At Green Mountain High School, ninth and 10th grade students enrolled in the Geometry in Construction program don’t question when they’ll have to use geometry in real life scenarios. Instead, when the roughly 70 students go to the program, they will be using that knowledge on a real-world project the very next class period.
“Everyday we have kids come in and say this is their favorite class. This is why they come into school,” said Tracy Csavina, a math teacher in the program. “That is huge when it comes to a math class. Not that many students say that about a math class.”
The program is divided in two class periods — one period of it is geometry, and the other is applying those geometry skills to constructing a house for a local family in need. Students and educators aren’t alone in their enthusiasm for the Geometry in Construction program. Csavina, Green Mountain High School construction teacher Scott Burke, principal Colleen Owens and administrator Lora Bong were awarded The Succeeds Prize 2018 for Excellence in Education Innovation. The Succeeds Prize recognizes Colorado public schools and educators who work toward student success, and it awarded schools across six categories a total of $150,000 in cash prizes.
Burke started the program along with math teacher Tom Moore at Loveland High School 13 years ago. He’s teaching for the first time at Green Mountain High School this year — an area he grew up in.
“This really is a program about building people up in a world that so often tears them down. My thing for returning to the community is this is an academic program that the community can really rally around, similar to how they would rally around sports,” Burke said.
Students in the program are divided into teams, and given a card that has a certain task on it that must be completed during construction days. They have created models that replicate the house they are going to help construct, and Csavina says students are going to learn everything from framing to plumbing for the house they will build.
Students like Green Mountain High School sophomore Grace Metcalf say the Geometry in Construction program brings a twist to learning math.
“I like doing more hands-on things, and it’s helping me out a lot with math already. I’m more of a visual learner,” Metcalf said. “(The program) gives you something to look at and work with your hands.”
Last year was the first time the program was brought to Green Mountain High School. It started with 21 students. This year, Csavina said more than 125 students tried to sign up. She said aside from learning math and construction, students learn communication and team work skills.
The program has been adopted by 500 high schools nationwide, according to Burke. He said residents can support the program through funding and donating items like construction materials.
“This is a math class, and the enthusiasm is here. We knew that education could be so much better,” Burke said.
Owens said she can’t wait to see how the program impacts the school’s test scores in the coming years, and her goal is to see the program implemented in every high school in Jefferson County.
“To me it’s a game changer. The whole thing is about changing the way kids learn math,” Owens said.
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